The Republic of Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for their first World Cup since 2002 were given a boost as they held Denmark to a goalless draw in Copenhagen.
Despite a few first half chances, neither team were able to get the better of their opponents. Eyes now turn to Dublin for the second leg decider on Tuesday.
Martin O’Neill’s well-organised squad will determine their World Cup fate at home and with a full squad as none of the eight Irish players who started the match on a yellow card received another one.
Midfielder David Meyler, who was forced to sit out the match in Copenhagen, will return from suspension, giving the Republic of Ireland a boost that may clinch them victory.
Elsewhere, Sweden shocked Italy in Solna claiming a 1-0 victory over the four-time champions who have not failed to qualify for the tournament since 1958.
Croatia comfortably negotiated the second leg of their play-off tie against Greece with a goalless draw sealing their place at next summer’s World Cup. Leading 4-1 from the home leg in Croatia, Zlatko Dalic’s team never got out of second gear – but then they did not need to against a Greece side who lacked ideas going forward and who took until the 86th minute to muster a shot on target.
Northern Ireland saw their World Cup dream die in Basel on Sunday, though it was a controversial penalty three days earlier that ultimately sent Switzerland through to Russia.
The Green and White Army will spend years seething over Ovidiu Hategan’s decision to give a spot-kick for a handball against Corry Evans at Windsor Park, with the Northern Irish unable to overcome the deficit in a 0-0 draw at St Jakob-Park.
Like the 2010 World Cup campaign, where the All Whites grabbed a 1-1 draw against world champions Italy, and went through the group phase without losing a match. The All Whites touch down in South America on Monday still in contention, after the dramatic 0-0 draw against Peru on Saturday.
Neighbors Australia on the other hand also gained a hard earned away point in Honduras after holding out to a draw.
African spots sealed :
Morocco and Tunisia have sealed their place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia , securing the last of Africa’s berths at the tournament.
Goals from defenders Nabil Dirar and Medhi Benatia helps Morocco recorded an impressive 2-0 victory away to Côte d’Ivoire in Abidjan ensured that The Atlas Lions would finish as Group C winners, while a goalless stalemate at home to Libya was enough for the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia to pip Congo DR to top spot in Group A. Both nations join Nigeria , Egypt and Senegal as Africa’s representatives at the global finals next year.
Morocco needed only a draw in their last group game to finish top of the standings ahead of the Ivorians, who had to win to clinch a place in Russia and for their fourth consecutive appearance at the finals.
After weathering an early storm, including a potential penalty call, Morocco scored two goals in the space of five minutes. Nabil Dirar gave Morocco the lead on 25 minutes, delivering a cross that Khalid Boutaib came close to heading, but the ball ended up finding the back of the net.
The Atlas Lions then doubled their lead just five minutes later through captain Mehdi Benatia’s neat finish off a corner, ensuring Herve Renard’s men finished top of Group C.
Meanwhile, in Group A, Tunisia played out a tense goalless draw with Libya to edge Congo DR to top spot by just one point. Two stoppage-time goals through Jonathan Bolingi and Neeskens Kebano, which sealed a 3-1 win against Guinea, was not enough for Florent Ibenge’s side, who needed Libya to record a victory over the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia on Saturday.
Tunisia ended their qualification campaign unbeaten and they have been to four previous World Cup finals and were the first African country to win a game at the finals, in 1978. They were denied a fifth win in six group matches as Libya’s goalkeeper Mohamed Nashnush made a number of key stops.
Diving saves kept Youssef Msakni, Anice Badri and Ghilane Chaalani from scoring as Nashnush proved a one-man roadblock. Tunisia threw everything into attacking in the closing stages to try to force a win in front of their home fans.
Morocco will make their first appearance at the global finals since France 1998, while Tunisia make their World Cup return for the first time since Germany 2006.
All qualifying results
- Ghana 1-1 Egypt
- Congo 1-1 Uganda
- Switzerland 0-0 Northern Ireland
- Croatia 0-0 Greece