Northern Ireland have qualified for the European Championships for the very first time following an impressive victory over Greece in Belfast on 8 October. Michael O'Neill's side went into the evening one point clear of Romania at the top of Group F, requiring at least two from their final fixtures against the Greeks and Finland or a timely slip-up from rivals Hungary.
Windsor Park was abuzz with expectation and the hosts, missing several key players including Chris Baird, Jonny Evans, and top scorer Kyle Lafferty, were certainly not found wanting in their quest to reach a first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup. Captain Steven Davis slid in to turn home Stuart Dallas' low cross from close range. Kilmarnock striker Josh Magennis doubled the advantage soon after half-time as he headed home from Oliver Norwood's corner.
Davis completed his brace with a second-half header that helped ensure Christos Aravidis' late reply was nothing more than a consolation for a hugely underwhelming Greece team who sit below the Faroe Islands at the bottom of the group with no wins and six defeats from nine matches.
"The players were outstanding," O'Neill was quoted as saying by Uefa.com during the passionate celebrations. "Right through the team, magnificent. It's a privilege to be here, I'm proud to stand here as their manager. How have we done it? I'm not really sure. The players deserve the ultimate credit. We have confidence and belief which comes from winning games. This shows the potential of this team and of football in Northern Ireland."
After scoring his first goal for his country, Magennis added: " I honestly can't put it into words. The goal came off my shoulder but I don't care. We have been working on set pieces all week, they are a big part of how we play. We may not have the best quality but we never give up. Once you have that fight, you can be a formidable team."
Elsewhere on a busy night of international football, the Republic of Ireland sealed at least a play-off berth with a brilliant victory over world champions Germany in Dublin. Substitute Shane Long notched the only goal of the game in the 70th minute with an excellent finish following goalkeeper Darren Randolph's long kick, meaning Martin O'Neill's men can now qualify automatically if they beat Poland on Sunday.
Wales can also book their place at Euro 2016 with just a solitary point from their last qualifying double-header against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Andorra, while England have already done so by virtue of their 100% record in Group E.
The solitary home nation that will definitely not be travelling to France next summer is Scotland, who fought back from an early deficit to lead 2-1 against Poland courtesy of efforts from Darren Fletcher and Matt Ritchie, but in-form Bayern Munich frontman Robert Lewandowski's equaliser at the death - his second goal of the night - meant that they can no longer even hope to pinch a play-off place.
Portugal also qualified for the tournament as a 66th-minute strike from Joao Moutinho secured a 1-0 win over Denmark in Group I.