Northern Ireland Guaranteed A Play-Off Spot After Scotland's Draw

Northern Ireland Guaranteed A Play-Off Spot After Scotland's Draw

Northern Ireland Guaranteed A Play-Off Spot After Scotland's Draw

Scotland's failure to beat Slovenia earlier in the day guaranteed Michael O'Neill's side a place in the draw for the play-offs in Zurich a week tomorrow (TUES 17), a handsome reward for their upward progress since reaching the last 16 of Euro 2016 last summer.

The defeat means they are likely to face a stronger side - possibly Portugal - next month, but O'Neill is not too concerned. We can't be greedy. "We're up against some great teams, potentially, in the play-off".

"You might play a very good team if you were seeded as well". It's unlikely we will be seeded, but we still have a chance to get to Russian Federation.

"This team is punching above its weight massively, it has done for a considerable amount of time. The squad has been stretched, so the players deserve credit".

The Irish finished second in Group C with 19 points from 10 games behind world champions Germany who had a ideal record with 30 points.

There was also the issue of avoiding bookings in Oslo with six players - captain Steven Davis, Jonny and Cory Evans, Oliver Norwood, Josh Magennis and Stuart Dallas - in danger of being banned for the first leg of the playoffs if they picked up another yellow card.

"It just brought a little bit of tension out of the situation", he said. "I expected it to be like this given that we had to play Germany and the task of trying to take something from that game".

"Clearly there's a sense of relief in the dressing room, they can look forward to the game and hopefully we can get the right result".

"I was disappointed to lose the game - the nature of the goal was unlucky - but the main thing was to have the opportunity of the play-off and that was confirmed to us before we took to the field".

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