Scotland and Northern Ireland into Euro 2020 play-off finals but Republic beaten
Scotland and Northern Ireland both won penalty shoot-outs to edge closer to a place at next year’s rescheduled European Championships.
Northern Ireland beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 4-3 on penalties in Sarajevo following a 1-1 draw, while Scotland won 5-3 against Israel at Hampden Park after a goalless stalemate.
Hearts striker Liam Boyce converted Northern Ireland’s winning spot-kick in their Group B play-off semi-final after Bailey Peacock-Farrell saved from Haris Hajradinovic and Edin Visca hit the crossbar.
AC Milan midfielder Rade Krunic had given Bosnia-Herzegovina a first-half lead, but Ian Baraclough’s side equalised soon after the interval through Aberdeen’s Niall McGinn.
Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic’s second-half free-kick hit the crossbar, but neither side could find a winner.
The Irish, who ended a 30-year wait to reach the finals of a major tournament when qualifying for Euro 2016, will now play Slovakia at Windsor Park in the play-off final.
The Republic of Ireland failed to make it an all-Ireland Group B final, losing 4-2 on penalties to Slovakia in Bratislava as the score ended goalless after extra time.
Alan Browne twice went close to breaking the deadlock in the second half of normal time, with both efforts superbly saved, and then hit a post in the first period of extra time.
But the Preston midfielder’s penalty in the shoot-out was saved and, after Slovakia had converted all four of their spot-kicks, Matt Doherty’s effort hit the crossbar.
Depleted Scotland closed in on their first major finals since 1998 as they held their nerve to beat Group C rivals Israel in their shoot-out.
Norwich’s Kenny McLean scored Scotland’s decisive spot kick after an uninspiring game ended goalless after extra time.
Scotland, without several key players through injury and Covid-19 regulations, had goalkeeper David Marshall to thank for saving Eran Zahavi’s penalty in the shoot-out as the hosts converted all five of their’s.
Steve Clarke’s side now face Serbia in Belgrade for a place in the finals.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s extra-time winner clinched Serbia a 2-1 win in Norway.
Milinkovic-Savic’s close-range finish late in normal time looked set to seal Serbia’s progress before Mathias Normann fired Norway level with two minutes remaining.
But Lazio midfielder Milinkovic-Savic turned home Dusan Tadic’s cross in the seventh minute of extra time and Norway could not find a way back.
Hungary booked a home Group A play-off final against Iceland with a convincing 3-1 win against Bulgaria in Sofia.
Willi Orban gave Hungary a half-time lead, which was doubled two minutes into the second period by Zsolt Kalmar’s free-kick.
Nemanja Nikolic headed Hungary’s third before Georgi Yomov struck a late consolation for Bulgaria.
Iceland progressed thanks to Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson’s first-half double in a 2-1 win against Romania at Laugardalsvollur.
Sigurdsson opened the scoring in the 16th minute with a fine low finish from outside the penalty area and added his second to put Iceland in command at the break.
Alexandru Maxim’s penalty, after Ragnar Sigurdsson’s challenge on Andrei Burca gave Romania hope, but Iceland comfortably saw the game out.
Georgia midfielder Tornike Okriashvili’s early penalty secured his country a 1-0 win against Group D rivals Belarus in Tbilisi.
Okriashvili converted from the spot in the seventh minute after he had been fouled by Nikolai Zolotov and that was enough to set up a home play-off finalagainst North Macedonia, who beat Kosovo 2-1 in Skopje.
Benjamin Kololli’s own goal gave North Macedonia a first-half lead and although former Huddersfield defender Florent Hadergjonaj equalised for Kosovo, Darko Velkovski headed the hosts back in front before the interval.