Ireland’s World Cup Hopes On The Brink After Defeat To Serbia

A calamitous international break for the Republic of Ireland has all but destroyed their World Cup ambitions.

A 1-0 defeat to Serbia in Dublin has all but destroyed the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup dream following a dire 1-1 draw with Georgia on Saturday — it's safe to say it's been a disastrous week of qualifying for the Boys in Green. For Serbia, Aleksandar Kolarov’s 55th-minute strike has put them in firm control of securing automatic qualification from UEFA’s Group D with two matches to play.

After recording three wins and one draw from their opening four matches in qualifying, the Irish have contrived to draw three and lose one of their following four, including the dismal 1-1 draw with already-eliminated Georgia and tonight’s 1-0 defeat to Serbia, who had Nikola Maksimovic sent off in the 68th minute for denying a goalscoring opportunity as the last defender.

Still, with Serbia down to 10-men for the final 20 minutes, Ireland were woeful in their attempts to get forward at the Aviva Stadium, a criticism that manager Martin O’Neill will again have to deal with before the final set of qualifiers in October.

Serbia have opened up a four-point lead at the top of the table, and they’ll be expected to secure automatic qualification with their final matches coming against Austria and Georgia.

Ireland’s failings have opened the door for Wales, who now sit second in the group. Ireland will host Moldova on October 6 while Wales will travel to Tbilisi to play Georgia.

If all goes as expected, the October 9 qualifier between Wales and Ireland at Cardiff City Stadium will decide who qualifies for the playoff and who watches the 2018 World Cup from home.

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