The Republic of Ireland will contest a two-leg play-off to determine their Euro 2016 qualification fate after suffering defeat to Group D rivals Poland on Sunday (11 October). Following their stunning victory over world champions Germany last time out, Martin O'Neill's side required either a victory or at least a 2-2 draw to automatically progress to next summer's finals, but fell behind to an early effort from Sevilla midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak.
Parity was soon restored after Shane Long was awarded a controversial penalty following a foul from Michal Pazdan that appeared to take place outside the 18-yard box. Jon Walters confidently dispatched the spotkick to give the visitors hope, but Robert Lewandowski scored his 13th goal of the campaign with a strong header three minutes before half-time and captain John O'Shea was dismissed late on for a second bookable offence.
The result means that Poland will join Germany in France after Thomas Muller and Max Kruse helped the latter, who needed only a point to qualify, to secure a hard-fought 2-1 win over Georgia. Ireland, meanwhile, may not be seeded for the play-off draw that takes place in Nyon on Sunday (18 October) and the list of possible opponents as it stands includes the likes of Denmark, Ukraine, Croatia, Sweden, Turkey and Slovenia as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina or possibly even the Netherlands or Hungary.
Regarding the draw, O'Neill told BBC Sport: "Whoever we play, we will have as good a chance as them. Before we played Germany if you had offered me third I would have taken it. But that win gave us the confidence to come and play here. We had to go for it in the second half, I actually thought we might have got a second goal, and that would have taken us through. Right until the end we were there but we were perhaps lacking that cohesiveness. Despite putting a lot of pressure on them it wasn't to be. But we are still in there, we can still make it... we are still fighting strongly."
Elsewhere in qualifying, Albania booked their place at their maiden major tournament after a 3-0 win in Armenia and Nemanja Matic and Aleksandar Kolarov were both sent off during Serbia's Group I defeat to Portugal. Scotland ended a disappointing campaign with a 6-0 victory in Gibraltar that included a hat-trick for Steven Fletcher, while Northern Ireland became the first fifth-seeded side to win their qualification group following a 1-1 draw in Finland. Romania also advanced courtesy of a comfortable three points away to the Faroe Islands.
On Saturday, Wales ended a 57-year wait to reach a major international competition, despite a 2-0 loss to Bosnia, thanks to Cyprus's win over Israel. They will finish a memorable campaign with what should be a straightforward victory over minnows Andorra on Tuesday (13 October). England will attempt to uphold their 100% record in their final fixture away to Lithuania tonight.