After Scotland managed to make a hash of things over the weekend, Wales became the latest Home Nation to crash out of World Cup qualifying with a disappointing 1-0 home loss to Republic of Ireland. Neither side were at full strength, with Gareth Bale missing for the hosts and Chelsea legend Jonny Walters missing for the Republic (alongside Shane Long and Séamus Coleman). Chelsea youngster Ethan Ampadu was on the Wales bench, as he’s been for all their recent qualifiers, but not did play.
Wales, one of the surprises of Euro 2016, only needed a draw to make the playoffs — Serbia were expected to beat Georgia to claim the top spot, which they duly did (congrats, Ivanović and Matić!) — but a goal from James McClean at the hour-mark gave the visitors all three points and a place in the two-legged playoffs next month.
Only one of the nine second placed teams do not make the playoffs and that is going to be, unfortunately for me, Slovakia. Greece technically aren’t guaranteed to finish 7th, but they’d have to lose to Gibraltar tomorrow, which combined with a Bosnia win over Estonia would put Slovakia through instead (and Bosnia would finish 9th among the second-place teams).
Elsewhere on Monday, Spain collected a meaningless 1-0 win over Israel (Azpilicueta finally played, the full game, too, as did Pedro), as did Italy over Albania with Zappacosta playing the final 30. Italy’s win gets them a top seeding for the play-off draw next week.