Ireland secured a World Cup play-off spot after leaving Wales in tatters on Monday night – but still face an onward battle to reach Russia.Martin O’Neill’s side finished the group with a smash-and-grab 1-0 victory against Wales to finish Group D in second place behind Serbia.But Ireland must still come through the lottery of the play-offs as they prepare to battle against another runner-up across two legs to clinch a spot at Russia 2018.The draw for the play-offs will be made on October 7 and will be made up of the eight best-placed runners-up from the European group stages.The four sides with the best Fifa ranking will be seeded and placed in pot one, while the four remaining teams will be unseeded and in pot two.The four ties will pit sides from the first pot against those in the second. So who could Ireland face in the play-offs? Ireland will be drawn out of pot two and face a seeded side in the play-offs.Italy, Denmark and Croatia have already claimed three of the seeded play-off spots, with one of Portugal and Switzerland set to seal the last.Italy clinched second place with a 1-1 draw against Macedonia on Friday, but were made to wait to see if that would be enough to qualify for a play-off place.Belgium’s 4-3 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday eventually assured Italy of a place in the eight-team shootout before their 1-0 win over Albania on Monday.Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner helped secure a place for Denmark after winning a penalty which Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen dispatched to seal a 1-1 draw with Romania.In Pictures | Wales vs Republic of Ireland | 09/10/2017 18 show all In Pictures | Wales vs Republic of Ireland | 09/10/2017 1/18 AFP/Getty Images 2/18 Getty Images 3/18 Getty Images 4/18 AFP/Getty Images 5/18 AFP/Getty Images 6/18 Getty Images 7/18 Getty Images 8/18 Getty Images 9/18 Getty Images 10/18 Getty Images 11/18 Getty Images 12/18 AFP/Getty Images 13/18 AFP/Getty Images 14/18 Getty Images 15/18 Getty Images 16/18 Getty Images 17/18 AFP/Getty Images 18/18 AFP/Getty Images The Danes finished second behind Group E rivals Poland with 20 points, four ahead of third-placed Montenegro.Croatia scooped their play-off spot after a 2-0 victory over Ukraine in Kiev. Leicester’s Andrej Kramaric scored twice in the second-half in what was new manager Zlatko Dalic’s first game in charge.Meanwhile, Group B is set for a thrilling climax on Tuesday as leaders Switzerland head to Lisbon to jostle with second-placed Portugal, with the winner set to land an automatic World Cup berth.The hosts are just three points behind Switzerland, and will leapfrog Vladimir Petkovic’s men in Group B with a win.However, if the match ends in a draw, Portugal have to settle for a play-off place.
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