Despite relentless pressure and countless chances the Azzurri failed to overturn the 1-0 deficit from the first leg, plunging the football-mad nation into anger and despair.
Now November 13, 2017 will go down in infamy as one of its darkest nights.
In the short term national coach Gian Piero Ventura will almost certainly be sacked, and legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will retire.
But the shock waves will reverberate far and wide in country whose national team has been a fixture at 14 successive finals and has won the World Cup four times. They are expected to qualify as an absolute bare minimum.