Almost as remarkable as the fact that Italy will miss out on a World Cup for the first time since 1958 is that Sweden will be present in Russia next year – one year after the greatest player in the country’s history turned his back on international football.
A Swedish side shorn of the magisterial Zlatan Ibrahimovic put in a performance far greater than the sum of their relatively average parts over two legs.
And the man who scored the only goal over 180 tense minutes of action, Jakob Johansson, may have just secured national hero status for the rest of his days.
Though it’s not just the people of Sweden toasting Johansson’s efforts. The Mail report that Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson was in the stands to watch the AEK Athens midfielder come off the bench and fire home a deflected long-range goal after 61 minutes of the first leg in Stockholm.
It is understood that Hodgson wants to sign three players in January to boost Palace’s survival prospects and Johansson is thought to be on his radar. The hard-working 27-year-old, who had never scored an international goal until Friday evening, is a box-to-box midfielder renowned for his work-rate and boundless energy.
Therefore, Johansson could in theory offer great presence to a Palace midfield that has looked a little lacklustre in recent months.
However, with the 15-cap international suffering the cruellest of blows on Monday night, going down with a cruciate ligament injury early in the second leg, the concern will be that his big break in England has passed him by.
Will Palace risk spending money on an injured player in January? Perhaps this is a deal that should be put on the backburner for now. Though recovering to participate in a World Cup campaign he made possible will be the main priority on Johansson's mind right now.