Live Blog

Matchday LIVE: North Macedonia stun Italy in World Cup play-off to set up Portugal decider

Relive GOAL's live commentary coverage of the World Cup qualifying play-offs on Thursday

Updated
North Macedonia Italy celebrate
Getty Images

That's all for tonight on the live blog!

2022-03-24T23:29:33.886Z

Wow. What a night of international action we have had in Europe! Portugal, Sweden and Wales all secured passage through to the play-off finals, but European Champions Italy were sent packing by North Macedonia in one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.

We hope you all enjoyed our coverage of the action, and if you wish to keep track of all the South American qualifiers that have just kicked off, including Brazil against Chile, click here to head to our live score page.

Thanks for joining us here on GOAL and we hope to welcome you all back very soon!

Portugal boss Santos: North Macedonia will be difficult

2022-03-24T22:36:21.748Z

Portugal boss Fernando Santos rejected the suggestion that his side already have one foot in the 2022 World Cup after booking a play-off final clash against North Macedonia, who produced a stunning upset win over Italy.

"We could play North Macedonia or Italy, I always said that," Santos told reporters after Portugal's 3-1 win against Turkey. "These games are finals. Finals are always complicated. We won the first one and now we have to win the second.

"That's what we're going to focus on. This game is over. Now we have to focus on North Macedonia, which will be a difficult game for sure. If they managed to beat Italy that means it's going to be very difficult."

Full time: Sweden 1-0 Czech Republic

2022-03-24T22:19:12.815Z

Sweden progress to the final of their qualifying section with a hard-fought 1-0 win against the Czech Republic.

Quaison's 110th-minute strike proved to be the difference between the two sides, and Sweden can now look forward to a final clash with Poland.

Mancini unsure on future after Italy miss out on 2022 World Cup

2022-03-24T22:17:15.313Z

Roberto Mancini to Rai Sport after the game: "We will see. Now I feel too disappointed to speak about my future, we will see.

“I’m sure this team has a great future. I’m supporting these players now more than ever."

Mancini Italia Macedonia 2022
Getty Images

Mancini: Something incredible happened tonight

2022-03-24T22:12:16.431Z

GOAL: Sweden 1-0 Czech Republic (Quaison)

2022-03-24T22:07:19.032Z

Sweden get their noses in front! Robin Quaison has got the all-important opening goal, producing a cool finish after being played in by Alexander Isak.

Sweden & Czech Republic edging towards penalties

2022-03-24T21:56:20.429Z

There is one game from the European playoffs still going on, with Sweden and the Czech Republic locked at 0-0 heading into the second half of extra time.

Penalties may be needed to decide this one!

Watch: Italy left disconsolate after final whistle

2022-03-24T21:55:18.999Z

Watch: North Macedonia' dramatic stoppage time winner

2022-03-24T21:53:52.703Z

Italy fail to qualify for 2022 World Cup

2022-03-24T21:49:25.815Z

Italy, the 2020 European Champions, have failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Azzurri have now failed to reach a second successive World Cup for the first time in their history, having also been absent from the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Full time scores

2022-03-24T21:47:46.974Z

Italy 0-1 North Macedonia

Portugal 3-1 Turkey

Wales 2-1 Austria

Sweden 0-0 Czech Republic (Into extra time)

Scotland 1-1 Poland

GOAL: Scotland 1-1 Poland (Piatek)

2022-03-24T21:45:49.894Z

Krzysztof Piatek strikes late on for Poland to snatch victory away from Scotland!

GOAL: Portugal 3-1 Turkey (Nunes)

2022-03-24T21:39:25.828Z

Portugal wrap up the win thanks to a goal from second-half substitute Matheus Nunes!

GOAL: Italy 0-1 North Macedonia (Trajkovski)

2022-03-24T21:37:15.585Z

Italy's World Cup dream is in tatters! Aleksandar Trajkovski has scored a stunning last-minute winner for North Macedonia.

Trajkovski managed to gain possession after a long goal kick from Macedonia's goalkeeper and he shifted onto his right foot before letting fly from 25 yards out, with the ball sneaking past Gianluigi Donnarumma at the far post.

Unbelievable moment for the Macedonians, who look to have set up a final clash with Portugal!

Watch: Yilmaz blazes over from 12 yards

2022-03-24T21:35:45.067Z

Yilmaz skies his penalty and it remains 2-1!!!

2022-03-24T21:29:30.789Z

Yilmaz misses the chance to be Turkey's hero! The 36-year-old was unable to double his account from 12 yards as he completely miscued his penalty, much to the relief of Portugal keeper Diogo Costa.

Costa watched the ball sail harmlessly over his crossbar, with Yilmaz left with his head in his hands.

PENALTY TO TURKEY!

2022-03-24T21:26:56.290Z

Turkey have been awarded a penalty! Jose Fonte was adjudged to have fouled Enes Unal in the box after a VAR review, with the referee pointing to the spot after initially deciding to wave play on.

Watch: Yilmaz halves Portugal's lead

2022-03-24T21:23:01.894Z

Sweden & Czech Republic cancelling eachother out

2022-03-24T21:19:07.870Z

One game that has seen barely any goalmouth action tonight is Sweden vs the Czech Republic, with only one shot on target recorded between them after 77 minutes...

GOAL: Scotland 1-0 Poland (Tierney)

2022-03-24T21:15:25.143Z

Scotland lead Poland thanks to a goal from Arsenal's Kieran Tierney!

The full-back dipped his body to meet a free-kick from the right, heading the ball across the goalkeeper and into the far corner.

Hampden is rocking!

GOAL: Wales 2-1 Austria (Sabitzer)

2022-03-24T21:11:18.179Z

Wales are now facing a nervy end to this game after seeing their clean sheet wiped out by Marcel Sabitzer.

The RB Leipzig star's shot found the net with the aid of a Ben Davies deflection, and Austria are now on for a potential comeback.

GOAL: Portugal 2-1 Turkey (Yilmaz)

2022-03-24T21:08:51.451Z

Portugal have been pegged back! Turkey are right back in this semi-final thanks to Burak Yilmaz, who played a neat one-two before calmly finishing low to the keeper's right.

Game on!

Italy wasteful again!!

2022-03-24T21:05:24.786Z

Italy may just be having one of those nights, with Domenico Berardi the latest man to fluff his lines in a good position.

The Sassuolo star neatly span his marker on the edge of the box but blazed his subsequent shot well over the bar.

Italy's shot count is up to 21 with no breakthrough yet!

GOAL: Wales 2-0 Austria (Bale)

2022-03-24T20:56:19.454Z

He's done it again! Wales have one foot in the final thanks to another piece of brilliance from Bale.

This time he latched onto a loose ball in the box before rifling the ball across the keeper and into the far right corner of the net, sparking wild celebrations in the home crowd.

Second half underway!!

2022-03-24T20:50:53.570Z

And we are back with the second half of all five international games from Europe. Will Italy pick up their game? can Portugal finish off Turkey? and will Wales hold on against Austria? all will be revealed over the next 45 minutes..

Half-time scores

2022-03-24T20:35:57.287Z

Portugal 2-0 Turkey

Italy 0-0 North Macedonia

Wales 1-0 Austria

Sweden 0-0 Czech Republic

Scotland 0-0 Poland

GOAL: Portugal 2-0 Turkey (Jota)

2022-03-24T20:33:20.367Z

Jota gets his goal! it's third time lucky for the Liverpool star as he heads home to double Portugal's lead just before the interval.

Italy toiling in vain against Macedonia

2022-03-24T20:28:28.448Z

Italy and North Macedonia look destined to go in level at the break, with the hosts doing plenty of huffing and puffing without manufacturing any real clear cut chances.

The Azzurri have recorded 15 shots already while Macedonia have yet to get close enough to the opposition net to let fly, and it will likely take a moment of magic for Roberto Mancini's side to find the breakthrough against the visitors' low block.

Watch: Bale's stunning 25-yard free kick for Wales

2022-03-24T20:18:40.946Z

GOAL: Wales 1-0 Austria (Bale)

2022-03-24T20:12:21.390Z

Wales in front against Austria! And of course, it is the Dragons' talisman Gareth Bale to provide the moment of magic to lift the capacity crowd out of their seats.

The Real Madrid winger struck a trademark free-kick into the top right-hand corner from 25 yards out, leaving the Austrian goalkeeper with no chance.

It was a sensational strike from the 31-year-old and Wales now have a lead to protect.

GOAL: Portugal 1-0 Turkey (Otavio)

2022-03-24T20:01:17.660Z

Portugal have made no mistake this time! Otavio puts the hosts into the lead in the 15th minute, turning home from close range after reacting quickest to Jota's initial shot bouncing back out off the post.

Huge chance for Jota!

2022-03-24T19:57:34.438Z

Portugal really should be one-nil up, and it's Diogo Jota who is guilty of missing the chance from point-blank range.

Bruno Fernandes' teasing free-kick is met by the Liverpool striker three yards from the net, but he gets the execution all wrong and blazes his volley over the bar.

European qualifiers get underway!

2022-03-24T19:48:41.228Z

Portugal vs Turkey, Wales vs Austria, Italy vs North Macedonia and Sweden vs Czech Republic are all now underway! As is Scotland's friendly with Poland, with GOAL on hand to bring you the biggest news from all five matches.

Will Ronaldo be at Qatar 2022?

2022-03-24T19:32:51.000Z

With Portugal and Italy both on different sides of the playoff draw, it is guaranteed that one of the countries will be missing out on a place at the 2022 World Cup.

Ronaldo has appeared in four consecutive World Cups for Portugal, scoring seven goals, and it seems unthinkable that he might not be present when the latest edition of the tournament kicks off in November.

The Manchester United star is the all-time record scorer in men's international football with 115 goals to his name, and Portugal fans will surely be hoping that he can add to that tally tonight to take Fernando Santos' side one step closer to the finals.

Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 2021
Getty

Scotland's fundrasing clash with Poland

2022-03-24T19:25:24.000Z

With Scotland's World Cup playoff semi-final against Ukraine having been postponed, Poland are visiting Hampden for a fundraising friendly.

The two nations have partnered with Unicef in support of the charity's humanitarian response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Poland were awarded a bye to the final in their qualifying section after Russia were hit with a ban from FIFA from all international competitions due to the military conflict in Ukraine.

Liverpool and Scotland full-back Andrew Robertson delivered a message to supporters calling them to donate to UNICEF, which you can watch below.

Santos shuffles Portugal defence

2022-03-24T19:15:34.000Z

Portugal boss Fernando Santos has been forced to shuffle his defensive line for the meeting with Turkey due to the Covid-19-enforced absence of Covid and Ruben Dias' struggles with a hamstring injury.

Paris Saint-Germain's Danilo Pereira will be filling in at centre-back, despite being a defensive midfielder by trade, alongside Jose Fonte.

Portugal team to face Turkey

2022-03-24T19:05:08.000Z

Order of play

2022-03-24T19:04:59.000Z

European Word Cup qualifying playoff semi-finals:
Italy vs North Macedonia - 19:45 GMT

Portugal vs Turkey - 19:45 GMT

Sweden vs Czech Republic - 19:45 GMT

Wales vs Austria - 19:45 GMT

International friendlies:

Scotland vs Poland - 19:45 GMT

South American World Cup qualifiers

Brazil vs Chile - 23:30 GMT

Colombia vs Bolivia - 23:30 GMT

Paraguay vs Ecuador - 23:30 GMT

Uruguay vs Peru - 23:30 GMT

Welcome to matchday live! ⚽️

2022-03-24T19:00:02.000Z

Good evening football fans across the world and welcome to GOAL's coverage of the international break!

We are here to provide you with all the action from the latest European and South American World Cup qualifiers, with the likes of Italy, Portugal and Brazil all in action.

17 of the 32 spots at Qatar 2022 have already been filled, and there should be plenty of drama ahead as the remaining nations scramble for a ticket to football's most prestigious international torunament.

Strap yourselves in and stay tuned for up-to-the-minute updates right here!