Saturday October 7 2017
Italy secure World Cup play-off spot

Italy are officially in the World Cup 2018 play-offs after Bosnia suffered a 4-3 home defeat to Belgium this evening.

The Azzurri’s position had been in doubt following last night’s deeply disappointing 1-1 draw with Macedonia in Turin.

They would’ve needed at least a point away to Albania on Monday evening in the final group game to be sure of a place otherwise.

Only the top eight runners-up get into the play-offs and there are nine qualifying groups, so one side will be left out.

It was a dramatic night under driving rain in Sarajevo, as Belgium took the lead within three minutes, but Bosnia had turned it around for 2-1 by half-time.

Michy Batshuayi and Jan Vertonghen – making up for an earlier howler – had it at 3-2 for the visitors, though Dario Dumic equalised with a free header at the 82nd minute and 120 seconds later Yannick Carrasco sealed the 4-3 victory.

Giampiero Ventura’s Italy will enter the two-legged play-offs for a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The first leg will be on November 9-11 and the second on November 12-14.

It’s not over yet, as the Nazionale need to boost their status in the FIFA rankings to avoid getting an extremely tough draw.

As things stand, the Azzurri are not yet guaranteed the role of top seeds, which means they could end up against Croatia or Euro 2016 winners Portugal.

Other sides who look set to enter the play-offs are Portugal, Wales, Croatia, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and Scotland.

Spain have qualified for the 2018 World Cup along with Belgium, England, Germany and hosts Russia.

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