REPUBLIC of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni was on the brink last night after a 1-0 defeat in Austria effectively ended their hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Bayern Munich full-back David Alaba’s 84th-minute strike in Vienna means Ireland could mathematically still reach a play-off place, but only if they win both of their remaining games and neither Sweden nor Austria manage another point.
The Football Association of Ireland called results “very disappointing” and said it would “consider the current position over the coming days”.
Northern Ireland suffered the ignominy of becoming only the fourth team ever to lose a World Cup qualifier to Luxembourg and the first since 1972.
They were beaten 3-2 by an 87th-minute Mathias Janisch goal, having taken the lead through Martin Paterson and then appeared to have rescued a draw with Gareth McAuley’s equaliser.
Wales suffered a comprehensive 3-0 home defeat to Serbia which condemned Chris Coleman’s team to the bottom of their group. New Real Madrid star Gareth Bale made a 32-minute cameo but only after goals from Filip Djordjevic, Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov and Lazar Markovic.
Wigan midfielder Shaun Maloney’s exquisite 88th-minute free-kick helped Scotland snatch all three points in a 2-1 win in Macedonia.
Watford winger Ikechi Anya opened the scoring on his first start for Scotland, who already knew they could not progress from Group A.
Holland became the first European country to guarantee their place in Brazil next year. Manchester United striker Robin van Persie scored both goals in a 2-0 win in Andorra that assures the Dutch top spot in Group D.
Italy followed suit with a 2-1 comeback win over the Czech Republic, sealed by striker Mario Balotelli’s penalty.
ON THE PLANE
Who’s qualified for World Cup?
■ Brazil (hosts)
■ South Korea