World Cup 2018: Denmark v Republic of Ireland

Steven Davis
Northern Ireland fell just short in their play-off against Switzerland
BBC coverage
Live text commentaries on the BBC Sport website

Two European nations. One spot remaining at next summer's World Cup finals in Russia. Everything to play for.

Northern Ireland were the first team to go out in the play-offs, losing 1-0 to Switzerland on aggregate.

The Swiss were joined at next summer's finals by Croatia, who followed up their 4-1 win over Greece in the first leg with a goalless draw in Piraeus in the second.

Four-time world champions Italy missed out for the first time since 1958, losing 1-0 on aggregate to Sweden after a goalless draw in the second leg in Milan.

The Republic of Ireland drew 0-0 with Denmark in the first leg in Copenhagen and will find out on Tuesday if they succeed in reaching a first World Cup finals since 2002.

Denmark v Republic of Ireland

First leg: Denmark 0-0 Republic of Ireland, Copenhagen

Second leg: Tuesday, 14 November (19:45 GMT), Dublin

Denmark v Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland may have qualified for back-to-back European Championships, but have not featured on the biggest stage of all since a buoyant showing at the 2002 World Cup.

Their manager Martin O'Neill says his side have it "all to play for" in Dublin on Tuesday after a 0-0 draw in the first leg against Denmark.

The Republic of Ireland had just 28% of possession in Copenhagen but were well organised and disciplined as they frustrated the home side.

"We're still in the tie," O'Neill said. "We'll have to win a game and we might have to score a couple because Denmark are capable of scoring."

Denmark, who last qualified in 2010, finished second behind Poland in their qualifying group.

Northern Ireland 0-1 Switzerland

First leg: Northern Ireland 0-1 Switzerland, Belfast

Second leg: Switzerland 0-0 Northern Ireland, Basel

Northern Ireland fell just short in their World Cup play-off against Switzerland, who had won nine of their 10 group games.

Michael O'Neill's side, who were targeting back-to-back tournament appearances after reaching the last 16 at Euro 2016, fell behind in the first leg when Corry Evans was adjudged to have handled in the area, allowing Ricardo Rodriguez to score the penalty.

Jonny Evans almost forced extra time right at the end of their second leg in Basel but Rodriguez cleared the ball off the line.

Croatia 4-1 Greece

First leg: Croatia 4-1 Greece, Zagreb

Second leg: Greece 0-0 Croatia, Piraeus

Croatia maintained their 100% record in play-off ties, winning their fifth comfortably against Greece.

The tie was all but over after the first leg thanks to an emphatic 4-1 win in what was only coach Zlatko Dalic's second game in charge.

The team ranked 18th in the world took advantage of some slack Greek defending to take a 2-0 lead through a Luka Modric penalty and Nikola Kalinic's tap-in. Sokratis Papastathopoulos headed a goal back but Ivan Perisic headed Croatia's third before half-time before Andrej Kramaric tapped in after a botched backpass.

Greece huffed and puffed but never properly threatened their opponent in a dire second leg.

Sweden 1-0 Italy

First leg: Sweden 1-0 Italy, Stockholm

Second leg: Italy 0-0 Sweden, Milan

A World Cup finals without four-time winners Italy, whose only failure to qualify came in 1958, will be bewildering for many football fans.

The Swedes won the first leg 1-0 at the Friends Arena, the only goal coming when Jakob Johansson drilled home from 20 yards via a Daniele de Rossi deflection. It proved to be enough as the Azzurri failed to make the breakthrough despite dominating the second leg.

Which European nations had already qualified?

World Cup qualifiers
Ten European nations have already qualified for next year's finals, including hosts Russia, holders Germany and England

Five-time winners Brazil have also qualified, along with Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Korea, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Who else can still qualify?

The tournament will consist of 32 teams, with hosts Russia joined by 31 qualifiers from around the globe.

We now know 29 of the nations who will compete next summer, with one European play-off remaining.

That leaves two more spots to be decided:

Peru or New Zealand (South America/Oceania play-off)

Honduras or Australia (Concacaf/Asia play-off)

Road to Russia: The key dates

  • 12-14 November: Play-off second legs
  • 1 December: Groups are drawn
  • 14 June - 15 July 2018: World Cup

Follow Match of the Day on Instagram for the best photos from the world of football.

Top Stories