Last season's UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-finalists Italy will not repeat the feat this term after being eliminated by Greece and Norway in the tightest of the 13 qualifying round groups.
Staging Group 9, Italy led the section prior to today's deciding matches, level on four points with Greece and three ahead of Norway and Moldova.
Italy lost 2-0 to Norway, but still would have finished top had Greece not equalised late to draw 2-2 with Moldova. That lifted Greece to first place and took them through to the Elite round, with runners-up Norway pipping Italy on head-to-head record.
It began well for Antonio Rocca's side with a 5-0 defeat of Moldova, Simone Magnaghi and Nicolo Quaggiotto both scoring twice and Alberto Baccarin converting a penalty. Dimitrios Diamantakos claimed the goal that gave Greece a 1-0 win against Norway.
Two days later there were two 0-0 draws, Moldova sharing the points with Norway and Italy holding Greece despite the 28th-minute dismissal of Magnaghi.
Norway now needed to beat Italy by two goals to ensure progress regardless of the other Matchday 3 result. Havard Nielsen scored midway through the first half and although Sverre Okland was sent off with two minutes left, substitute Chuma Anene made it 2-0 deep in added time.
Moldova gave themselves a chance by going two up against Greece through Maxim Iurcu and Igor Dima but Diamantakos pulled one back before the break and converted a penalty with five minutes left to lift the team from third to first place and end Italy's hopes of reaching Liechtenstein 2010.
The Azzurrini, who are currently taking part in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria thanks to their 2008 success, will now have to rebuild for the qualifying campaign of the 2011 tournament in Serbia.
That final tournament will also determine - by finishing at least third in the group stage - the six European nations that will take part in the 2011 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Mexico.