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Ireland's play-off record makes for grim reading

THE Republic of Ireland will run out in Estonia tonight desperate to end a run of play-off misery which has torn apart their dreams time after time.

Only once in six previous attempts have the boys in green made it through a play-off, the controversial World Cup exit in France two years ago extending their tale of woe in agonising fashion.



WORLD CUP 1966 v SPAIN

Ireland were pitched into a showdown with Spain after Syria's withdrawal. The one-off game was played in Paris and the Spaniards edged through by a single goal to deny the Republic the shortest of trips to England.

EURO 96 v HOLLAND

Jack Charlton's side also missed out on a finals tournament on English soil when they were defeated 2-0 by Holland at Anfield in December 1996. Two goals from a teenage Patrick Kluivert sent the Dutch through as Charlton's reign drew to a close.

WORLD CUP 1998 v BELGIUM

Having drawn 1-1 at Lansdowne Road in the first leg, the Irish headed for the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels up against it. Emile Mpenza's double ensured Ray Houghton's strike counted for little as David Connolly was sent off on another miserable night.

EURO 2000 v TURKEY

Another home draw after Lee Carsley had conceded a penalty from which the Turks cancelled out Robbie Keane's earlier strike sent Ireland into the white-hot atmosphere of Bursa's Ataturk Stadium knowing they were in for a battle.

Against a background of anger and recriminations over the training facilities afforded to the respective teams, the second leg ended 0-0 to send Turkey through on the away goals rule.

WORLD CUP 2002 v IRAN

The oasis among a sea of heartache. Goals from Ian Harte and Keane gave the Republic a 2-0 lead to take to Tehran. With skipper Roy Keane missing from the squad, Mick McCarthy's men endured a tense night at the Azadi Stadium, but Yahya Golmohammadi's stoppage-time strike was too little, too late to deny the visitors their place in the Far East.

WORLD CUP 2010 v FRANCE

The travesty of all travesties befell Trapattoni's men after a spirited response to a 1-0 home defeat by France.

Robbie Keane's strike at the Stade de France had Raymond Domenech's side on the back foot until William Gallas, aided by Thierry Henry's handball which went unseen by the officials, rescued them and sent Ireland packing once again.


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