It came as a huge shock for many football lovers when Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 following their 1-0 aggregate defeat to Sweden on 13 November.

The Azzurri have sacked their coach Gian Piero Ventura since then and the Italian Football Federation president Carlo Tavecchio has already confirmed that "important names" are being considered to replace the 69-year-old.

Although the former coach was blamed by a section of fans for the team's failure to book a place in the world event to be held in Russia no one can deny the fact that Italy were actually in Pot 2 for the World Cup qualifiers and they ended up in the same group as European footballing giants Spain. So, one can imagine how tough the competition was.

Now the question that arises here is that how did a powerhouse like Italy manage to get themselves in Pot 2? Well, the answer is Portugal's Eder.

The former Swansea City flop unintentionally played a role in June 2015 which is now being blamed as one of the reasons behind Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup.

Eder's goal, which was also his first for the national side, in the 1-0 victory over Italy in the friendly meant that the Italians were not among the seeded nations as they failed to garner enough points to rank higher in the Fifa standings and hence, ended up in Pot 2. Romania replaced the 2006 World Cup winners in Pot 1.

For the World Cup qualifiers draw, six seeding pots were formed based on the Fifa world rankings till July 2015, as per the Uefa's official website. The winner of each group qualifies for the 2018 World Cup, while the eight runners-up proceed to the play-off.

Spain topped Group G, while Italy finished second, five points behind the leaders. Out of the 10 World Cup qualifiers, Italy managed to win seven and suffered two defeats. Their only draw came against Spain. One of their defeats was also against the 2010 World Cup winners.

Prior to the friendly win against Italy in June 2015, Portugal had managed to beat the four-time World Cup winners only on four occasions with their last two wins coming in 1976 and 1957.

Chelsea's current manager, Antonio Conte was then in charge of Italy. The team were flying high under the former Juventus manager as they were undefeated under Conte before the friendly tie against Portugal.

Interestingly, there was no Cristiano Ronaldo for the 2015 fixture and it was certainly an advantage for Italy. However, they failed to find the back of the net and Eder's 52nd-minute goal saw Conte suffer his first defeat as Italy's coach.

Eder's first goal for Portugal came against Italy Getty

Eder has scored four goals in 33 appearances for his national side so far. One of his goals had helped Portugal defeat France in the Euro 2016 final.

He left Swansea for Lille in 2016 and is currently on a loan with Lokomotiv Moscow. Eder failed to score a single goal for the Welsh club during his time in the Premier League.

Had Italy stopped Eder from scoring that goal in the friendly fixture, the story could have been different for them.

Meanwhile, Poland qualified from Group E and Denmark made it to the play-off from the same group. Romania finished fourth in that group, which also had Montenegro, Armenia and Kazakhstan.

Italy players disappointed after they failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia Getty