Northern Ireland book their place at next summer's Euros
A busy night of international football saw wild celebrations for Albion’s Northern Irish contingent as they booked their passage to the European Championships next summer but despair for the Scottish boys as their hopes were cruelly dashed.
Northern Ireland needed a win from their final two qualifiers to qualify for a first ever European Championships and they got it at the first time of asking with a nerveless 3-1 win over Greece at Windsor Park, Belfast.
Although Jonny Evans was sidelined with injury, Albion were well represented as Chris Brunt and Gareth McAuley both played the full 90 minutes to see their side over the line.
“Everything went to plan, we couldn’t have had a better script,” said Brunt after the game. “We’ve had a lot of bad times at Windsor Park in the past, so this is one of our better nights!”
Northern Ireland complete their fixtures in Finland on Sunday and if they avoid defeat there, they will top Group F.
The joy in Belfast was in sharp contrast to the emotions in Glasgow as Scotland conceded a last minute goal to Poland to draw 2-2.
That means the Scots can no longer reach the play-offs, a bitter blow after they fought back from a goal down to lead 2-1 going into the final seconds. James Morrison sat the game out through suspension but Albion skipper Darren Fletcher played 74 minutes for the Scots. Scotland complete their fixtures on Sunday in Gibraltar.
Poland’s point keeps them ahead of the Republic of Ireland going into their showdown final game. James McClean was suspended as Shane Long’s goal saw them beat Germany 1-0 in Dublin and so ensure that they will at least make the play-offs.
McClean will be available for the game in Poland on Sunday which Ireland will need to win to grasp automatic qualification from Group D.
Salomon Rondon played the full 90 minutes for Venezuela as they hosted Paraguay in their opening World Cup qualifier. Venezuela slumped to a 1-0 defeat in Puerto Ordaz.
Cristian Gamboa was also in action, playing 90 minutes for Costa Rica as they hosted South Africa in a friendly. The visitors were 1-0 winners.