Italy finish second place in Group G after Macedonia draw

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Davide Zappacosta acknowledges the fans were "justified" in jeering Italy off the pitch after their 1-1 draw with Macedonia.

Such an eventuality could spell doom for a once-proud nation.

Spain sealed its place in the 2018 World Cup as Group G victor after storming to a 3-0 win over Albania on Friday with a ruthless first half display, while nearest challenger Italy was held to a 1-1 draw by Macedonia. Certainly the FIGC is weighing the risks of sacking Ventura immediately and risk a disjointed team effort in Albania against the negatives of fielding a team with little confidence and cohesiveness.

The win allowed Spain to move five points clear in Group G above Italy, who are now assured of finishing second, while Albania's slim hopes were extinguished.

Giorgio Chiellini put Italy ahead five minutes before half-time but the host was stunned when Aleksandar Trajkovski levelled in the 77th minute.

Victory would have assured Gian Piero Ventura's side of another chance to qualify behind group victor Spain, but it was unable to see out a win in Torino. We have a match waiting for us in Albania (tomorrow) before the play-offs and we'll go out there to play.

"At this point we need a psychological turning point".

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"We're really frustrated. We are sorry for the fans, we understand them and we are as upset as they are, but I am sure they will support us when we need them", said Chiellini.

"I think the whistles were an expression of disapproval by the crowd and they were in response to how we got on".

Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon - decked out in the new Azzurri blue kit for the 2018 World Cup - conceded that the four-time world champions were still reeling from last month's rout by Spain.

Macedonia's positive second-half display was rewarded 13 minutes from time when Trajkovski latched onto Pandev's throughball to fire an unstoppable shot past Buffon into the bottom-left corner.

Manager Ventura told reporters: "If we play like we did in the second half then we will struggle to get through the play-offs".

"That made a big difference and when that drops, the sharpness goes", he said.

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