A vital game for the Republic this evening against Italy at Croker has become slightly less critical due to Cyprus beating Bulgaria this evening thus all but assuring the Irish a play off place from Group 8 at the very least. Too much to hope for automatic qualification surely? Whelan gave Ireland a deserved lead early on cancelled out by Camoranesi in the 26th minute – the game remains pretty even.
Update St Ledger scores with 3 minutes left ! Can Trappatoni’s men hold on? Update No they can’t. Italy equalise in the last minute of normal time.
Update Group 8 results: Cyprus 4 Bulgaria 1; Ireland 2 Italy 2. Italy qualify, Ireland in the playoffs – a bit of concentration at the end and it could have been very different. A fair result at the end I feel. Let’s hope it’s Greece, Bosnia or Slovenia if FIFA stop this seeding nonsense, eh?
Northern Ireland don’t play this evening, their chances of the play-offs all but gone… or are they? The matches between the other protagonists in the group are both 0-0 at half time (Slovakia v Slovenia & Czech Rep vs Poland) – a goal for the Slovaks and if the other game stays goalless it might just keep the dream alive into the game against the Czechs on Wednesday. I’m keeping my browser refreshed just in case! Update Harrumph! Czech Rep 1 Poland 0. A win in Prague is all that will do if it stays like this. Update Oh no! Slovakia 0 Slovenia 1 Disaster with half an hour left in Bratislava – NI hopes hanging by an increasingly fraying thread.
Update> Group 3 Results: Czech Rep 2 Poland 0 ; Slovakia 0 Slovenia 2. Northern Ireland retain a theoretical chance of second in the group but that is all given Slovenia’s superior goal difference and the fact they play pointless San Marino in their final game. If only Worthington’s men had started better… A win is essential on Wednesday to finish third or a draw for fourth otherwise they risk finishing second bottom despite such a great campaign – it really is a cruel game at times. Very important for seedings for Euro 2012 I would imagine.