Belfast Telegraph

Hit for six... now play-off showdown with Republic is on cards

 

Dejection: defender Craig Cathcart and keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell are floored by Germany last night
Dejection: defender Craig Cathcart and keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell are floored by Germany last night

By Paul Ferguson in Frankfurt

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are on course for a Euro 2020 play-off final showdown after Michael O'Neill's side finished their Group C qualifying campaign with a 6-1 loss in Germany - their heaviest qualifying defeat since they were hammered 9-2 by England at Maine Road in 1949.

Wales' 2-0 win at home to Hungary booked their place in the finals, meaning Northern Ireland will face Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo in March while the Republic are off to Slovakia.

If the Irish sides win their semi-finals they will clash, possibly in Dublin, with a place at the Euro 2020 finals the golden prize.

The semi-finals are scheduled for March 26 with the final on March 31.

For Northern Ireland, it will be an opportunity to exact revenge after their 2-0 Nations League defeat in Bosnia-Herzegovina last year.

Germany finished as Group C winners after their comfortable victory in Frankfurt.

A hat-trick from Serge Gnabry, a brace from Leon Goretzka and a late Julian Brandt goal ensured Northern Ireland conceded five or more goals in a competitive game for the first time since against England in 1979. The visitors stunned Germany in the eighth minute when Michael Smith found the net with a stunning strike but Joachim Low's men responded in style.

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