Rome - The Italian press on Tuesday lamented the national squad's failure to reach the World Cup for the first time in 60 years as a sporting catastrophe.
"Italy, this is the apocalypse," ran a headline on the website of sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport shortly after Monday night's 0-0 draw with Sweden in the second leg of the play-off for a place at Russia 2018.
The stalemate meant Sweden advanced thanks to a 1-0 victory in Friday's first leg.
"Wasted chances, a bit of bad luck but zero goals in 180 minutes against the Swedes, who will go to Russia," Gazzetta commented, making clear its view that Italy had not done enough to earn qualification.
"The refereee denied us a penalty, but our opponents should have had two," the paper noted. The other major sports daily, Corriere dello Sport, headlined with: "Italy out of the World Cup", and underlined how painful it will be for the country to be on the sidelines when the action kicks off in Russia in June.
"In only a few months time we will be watching the World Cup for everyone else: for the first time in 60 years we will be on the outside," the daily noted in an editorial piece.
"It is an intolerable football shame, an indelibile stain.
"It is over. Apocalypse, tragedy, catastrophe. Call it how you see it, but please, spare us the speeches on a system that isn't working: our football is in a serious crisis but it is not inferior to its Swedish or its Swiss counterparts."
An online headline in centre-left broadsheet La Repubblica read simply: "Goodbye Russia", while Turin's La Stampa proclaimed: "Disaster for Italy, we won't be going to the World Cup."