By Niall Clarke
- Northern Ireland defeat Greece 3-1 to secure Euro 2016 qualification
- Scottish hopes dashed after 2-2 draw with Poland
- Republic of Ireland defeat Germany 1-0
Northern Ireland have sealed Euro 2016 qualification after a 3-1 victory over Greece at Windsor Park. Scotland on the other hand are out after Robert Lewandowski’s late equaliser secured a 2-2 at Hampden Park.
It was a historic moment in Northern Ireland after two goals by skipper Steven Davis and one by striker Josh Magennis sent them through to a major tournament for the first time in 30 years.
Davis opened the scoring ten minutes before half time with a close range finish. Magennis doubled their lead with a well-placed header off Oliver Norwood’s cross. The captain then put the game beyond any doubt ten minutes later with a header of his own from a corner.
There was enough time for Greece to grab a consolation goal. Christos Aravidis struck from close range five minutes from time, but it would not be enough to spoil the party as the Northern Irish qualified for their first European finals.
The Scot’s would not be so lucky. Lewandowski’s stoppage time equaliser coupled with Ireland’s 1-0 win over Germany ended all hope.
Gordon Strachen’s men were running into the most in form striker in world football in Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski. The Pole had scored nine goals in qualifying and 12 goals in his past four games for his club.
So there was no surprise when he gave Poland the leads three minutes into the game. Luckily for Scotland he did not add another four within nine minutes.
Instead Scotland would go into half time with the momentum after Matt Ritchie’s left footed goal from outside the area.
On the hour mark, The Scot’s began to dream. Steven Fletcher put the hosts into the lead, putting Scotland in contention for qualification or a playoff spot.
Strachen’s side resiliently held on for the next 35 minutes but the one man they were warned heavily about pre-match turned heartbreaker. Lewandowski’s goal four minutes into stoppage time stunned the entire nation, qualification hopes had gone.
The Republic of Ireland’s 1-0 victory over Germany in Dublin sealed the deal.
Wales will now look to join England and Northern Ireland when they travel to Bosnia on Saturday. England will play a dead rubber against Estonia on Friday.
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