Ireland's numbers game
From first place to fourth place ... Ireland's position in Group B is up in the air, WRITES DAVID KELLY.
It would have taken some leap of faith to believe it was possible at half-time during yesterday's game in Moscow, but if Slovakia beat Russia next month, Ireland can top the group with wins against Andorra and Armenia, even if their rivals win their final games.
If Slovakia and Russia draw, a predicted Russian win versus Andorra and two wins for Ireland will see Russia and Ireland finish level on 21 points.
However, Russia will automatically qualify by virtue of their head-to-head record, leaving Ireland going into the play-offs.
If Slovakia lose to Russia, and both win their final group games, Ireland will beat Slovakia to the play-off spot by winning their final two games.
If Armenia win their final two games -- the last group game is against Ireland -- Ireland could conceivably finish in fourth place and Armenia would most likely make the play-off spot ahead of Slovakia.