Draw leaves Ireland scratching around for Euro 2016 lives


As England prepare to raise the entertainment levels from their drab 0-0 draw with the Republic of Ireland against Slovenia in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, the rest of the United Kingdom has been in action to try and secure the dream of all five nations reaching the same tournament.

Wales, who secured a famous 1-0 win over Belgium on Friday night, kept to their end of the bargain, but the Republic of Ireland’s draw with Scotland has thrown a serious spanner into the works for Martin O’Neill’s men.

A John O’Shea own goal handed Scotland a point perhaps undeservedly at the Aviva Stadium and leaves the Irish four points off Germany for an automatic qualification spot from Group D.

Thanks to the 1-1 draw, Gordon Strachan’s men remain in third place and stand a chance of progressing via the play-offs. The Scots have a two-point advantage over O’Neill’s squad with four group games remaining, while they are two points off Hungary to seal the “best-third-placed” position to advance directly to the finals in France.

A draw for Northern Ireland, on the other hand, did manage to keep Michael O’Neill’s team in the hunt for qualification.

The goalless affair with Romania, who top Group F, ensures the Green and White Army remain just one-point off the pace to win the group, but two crucial points ahead of the Hungarians in second.

England, who are 1/20 to win their group, face Slovenia on Sunday as the 17/20 favourites to pick an away win and are the most certain of the five countries to be in France.

Roy Hodgson’s side are six points clear at the top of Group E having compiled a 100 percent record from their five previous matches, a feat only matches by Slovakia so far in the qualification process.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.