Home Nations have huge hope of all qualifying for Euro 2016
Of the 15 Euro 2016 qualifiers the five British Isles sides have played between them so far, only one has ended in defeat. Coral therefore offer tasty odds of 50/1 for England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland all to reach the France finals.
Here’s how the Tartan Army and both teams from the Emerald Isle got on in their latest outings.
Poland 2-2 Scotland
Gordon Strachan’s side came away from Warsaw with a hard-fought draw that keeps them level on points with world champions Germany. We’ll come on to how Die Mannschaft fared later, though.
Scotland started sloppily with Poland midfielder Krzysztof Maczynski breaking his international duck. The 27-year-old, who plays his club football for Chinese team Guizhou Renhe seized upon Alan Hutton’s error and fired low in off the post to put the hosts ahead.
Poland’s lead was short-lived, however, as Malaysia-born Shaun Maloney levelled within six minutes. Steven Fletcher’s superb crossfield ball was taken down expertly by Ikechi Anya, and the Wigan Athletic midfielder converted from his cutback.
Home side skipper Robert Lewandowski proved a constant thorn for Scotland’s defence, using clever movement to run the channels, but the Bayern Munich poacher was seldom allowed to get a shot away. Just before the hour, Strachan’s side completed a sensational turnaround with Steven Naismith deftly turning in a James Morrison free kick.
Arkadiusz Milik, Poland’s scoring hero against bitter rivals and neighbours Germany, headed just over before trying to tee up Lewandowski. Maloney then brought a fine save out of Wojciech Szczesny, with the Arseal stopper palming his effort over.
Milik broke Scottish resistance 15 minutes from time, however, firing past David Marshall from Artur Jedrzejczyk’s clever reverse pass to equalise. The Cardiff City custodian had to be on hand to turn a Lewandowski effort behind, thus preserving a point. Scotland are now 13/10 chances to qualify from Group D.
Germany 1-1 Republic of Ireland
Joachim Low’s wait for a post-World Cup clean sheet goes on, as John O’Shea marked his century cap by scoring a last gasp leveller. Die Mannschaft led in Gelsenkirchen through Toni Kroos, although Irish keeper David Forde thwarted Real Madrid’s summer signing prior to him breaking the deadlock, and Erik Durm hit the bar in the first half.
Resolute Republic defending had its reward, however, as Martin O’Neill sent Sunderland skipper O’Shea forward during stoppage time. He got across Mats Hummels to make his 100th appearance for his country the most memorable. Odds of 11/10 say Ireland will reach the France finals.
Greece 0-2 Northern Ireland
Greens boss Michael O’Neill has now won all three of the Group F games his side have played so far, as the Home Nation took all the points from their meeting with the Euro 2004 winners in Athens’ port Piraeus.
Kyle Lafferty scored yet again for the visitors, but Derby County winger Jamie Ward starred with a goal and an assist. It’s now a tasty 9/2 that Northern Ireland top this pool, and 6/5 for qualification.