Irish eyes are nearly smiling
The Irish will have to make do with the play-offs after a good 2-2 draw against the Italians but have to thank two Stoke City players for their first goal.
Glenn Whelan was on target for the Republic after just eight minutes in Dublin last night. Liam Lawrence had directed his free kick to his Potters' teammate and Whelan, who was totally unmarked on the edge of the penalty area, rocketed the ball home into the top right hand corner of the net giving the Italian keeper, Buffon, no chance. The Irish were unlucky not to win after going ahead again with just three minutes remaining after the Italians had earlier pegged them back but had to suffer watching the World Champions earn a draw deep into added-on time. The point means that they are guaranteed a second place spot in their group and a place in the play-offs for the chance to go to the World Cup in South Africa next year.
Whilst Lawrence and Whelan still have to wait to see where they'll be spending their 2010 summer holidays, Thomas Sorensen can start making his plans after his Danish side topped their group with a 1-0 win over their Scandinavian rivals, Sweden.