Ireland will be guaranteed a play-off if they beat Wales in Cardiff

Slovenia’s draw with Scotland in Ljubljana puts an end to all of the permutations

You can wave goodbye to all of those mind-numbing permutations because Ireland will be guaranteed a World Cup play-off place if they beat Wales on Monday night, thanks to Slovenia’s draw with Scotland in Ljubljana.

The 2-2 result means that Scotland miss out on second place in Group F with Slovakia instead finishing as runners-up to England thanks to their win over Malta.

However, with points against bottom-placed teams not counting in the second place table the Slovakians finish with 12 while Ireland will get to 13 with a win in Cardiff.

Leigh Griffiths had put Scotland ahead in the first half and had the large swathes of Scottish fans who had travelled dreaming of reaching a first major tournament since 1998 but Roman Bezjak equalised shortly after half-time before putting the home side ahead 20 minutes later.


Robert Snodgrass ensured some late drama when he equalised in the 87th minute but the Slovenians held on for a draw and the good will of all Irish people for decades to come.

And so it all comes down to Cardiff on Monday night. Ireland’s fate is in their own hands, can they deliver?

Ruaidhrí Croke

Ruaidhrí Croke

Ruaidhrí Croke is a sports journalist with The Irish Times