Defending World Cup champion Italy was dumped out of the World Cup at the group stage on Thursday, joining the humiliation of fellow European power France.

 

It marked the first time the winner and runner-up from the previous World Cup had both failed to reach the second round. Italy, four-time Cup champs, looked shameful and shell-shocked after their miserable tournament in which it finished last in Group F — the weakest of any group based on FIFA world rankings.

 

Slovakia, appearing for the first time as an independent nation, stunned the aging Azzurri 3-2 to reach the second round together with Paraguay in Group F. Japan and the Netherlands, meanwhile, advanced out of Group E.