Friday 15 December 2017

Northern Ireland assured of play-off place following Scotland's draw in Slovenia

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Germany at Windsor Park on October 5, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Germany at Windsor Park on October 5, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Northern Ireland's place in the play-offs for the World Cup finals has been confirmed after Scotland drew with Slovenia.

Only eight of the nine group runners-up will make it through to next month's play-offs and Slovakia, who finished second in Group F at Scotland's expense, ended their qualification campaign with fewer adjusted points than the Northern Irish.

Confirmation of their play-off berth arrived less than an hour before Michael O'Neill's side played their final group game in Norway on Sunday.

Northern Ireland had guaranteed second spot last month with a 2-0 victory over Czech Republic but, with results against the bottom-placed sides in each group discounted in the race for the play-offs, their situation was still not resolved heading into this international break.

They began the day knowing anything other than a Scotland victory would see them make it through regardless of how they fared at the Ullevaal Stadion.

The draw for the play-offs takes place on October 17, and it will be seeded, meaning Northern Ireland's result against Norway on Sunday evening is still important if they want to potentially avoid the likes of Portugal, Italy and Wales.

Irish Independent Sport Star Awards

Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.

Press Association

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport