Northern Ireland require just a draw against the Czech Republic next week to secure a World Cup play-off spot after a victory in Group C action last night. That win came at the hands of San Marino and although the San Marinese minnows offered some rugged resistance they were finally swept aside by Michael O’Neill’s men.
It took until the 70th minute for Northern Ireland to break the deadlock as Josh Magennis was on hand to relieve any late tension that may well have been forming and just five minutes the traveling fans who made the journey to Serravalle could relax when Magennis scored his second of the night.
The result was put beyond any doubt with 12 minutes remaining when Steven Davis made it 3-0 on the night to enhance Northern Ireland’s chances of finishing runners up in Group C. Even defeat on Monday night would not be the end of the world as they would then just require one win from their remaining two matches.
Germany have made sure they cannot finish any lower than second in Group C with a win over the Czech Republic last night, they require just a win at home to Norway on Monday to secure qualification for the finals in Russia as they look to defend the title they won back in 2014.
It needed a late goal though to make sure that Joachim Low’s men came away with three points last night. Timo Werner had put Germany ahead as early as the 4th minute and it looked like that would be enough to come away from Prague with victory.
But Vladimir Darida leveled proceedings with just 12 minutes remaining, there was however still a final twist in the tale as Mats Hummels snatched a late winner just two minutes from time to break Czech heart and edge Germany ever closer to participation in next Summer’s tournament.
Norway have the slimmest of chances of still finishing second in the group but it would the most remarkable combination of results for that to happen. Last night they picked up a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan in Oslo. Bournemouth’s Josh King broke the deadlock from the spot on 31 minutes while Rashad Sadygov put through his own net to wrap up the win for the Norwegians