Portugal 2 Switzerland 0
Ireland’s considerable World Cup playoff task now appears slightly easier after Portugal beat Switzerland 2-0 in Lisbon on Tuesday night t to finish top of Group B and secure their place at next summer’s tournament.
The Swiss headed into the match having won all nine of their qualification fixtures, including a 2-0 win over the European champions - who were without Cristiano Ronaldo - in Basel last September.
But their hopes of maintaining their 100 per cent record were dented just before half time as former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou turned the ball into his own net. A dominant Portugal made sure of top spot in the 57th minute, with Andre Silva doubling his side’s lead.
Ronaldo missed a golden chance towards the end, but Portugal’s win was never in doubt.
After their defeat at the Estádio da Luz Vladimir Petkovic’s side will now be seeded in the playoff draw - which takes place on October 17th - meaning they are among Ireland’s potential opponents.
Switzerland are a far less daunting prospect for Martin O’Neill’s men than Portugal, with Italy, Croatia and Denmark the three other sides Ireland could face over two legs in November.
In the night’s other two Group B fixtures, Hungary beat the Faroe Islands 1-0 while Latvia thrashed Andorra 4-0.
Sweden have also secured a playoff place despite losing 2-0 to the Netherlands in Amsterdam.
The Netherlands headed into their final Group A fixture needing to win by six goals in order to pip Sweden into second place, but Arjen Robben’s first half brace wasn’t enough to inspire his side to a miracle result.
After the game, Robben announced his international retirement following a career which saw him earn 96 caps.
Meanwhile France confirmed their place in Russia with a 2-1 win over Belarus at the Stade de France thanks to first half goals from Antoinne Griezmann and Olivier Giroud - finishing top in the process.
Elshewhere in Group A Luxembourg held visitors Bulgaria to a 1-1 draw.
The playoff picture was completed by Greece, who ensured a second place finish in Group H with a 4-0 win over Gibraltar, a result which meant Bosnia-Herzegovina’s 2-1 win in Estonia was in vain. Greece will be unseeded, along with Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Swedes.
Elsewhere in Group H Roberto Martinez left striker Romelu Lukaku out of his starting line-up as leaders Belgium eased past Cyprus - with the Manchester United striker scoring off the bench to seal a 4-0 victory.