Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland and Republic both jump up FIFA World Rankings after opening Euro 2020 victories

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland both started their Euro 2020 qualifying campaigns with back-to-back victories.
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland both started their Euro 2020 qualifying campaigns with back-to-back victories.

Northern and Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have both moved back up the FIFA World Rankings after their winning starts to the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

Northern Ireland are up three places to 33rd after beating Estonia 2-0 and Belarus 2-1 at Windsor Park. Michael O'Neill's men have leapfrogged Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovinia and Paraguary.

NI are still 13 places shy of their all-time high of 20th in the rankings, which they achieved back in September 2017. A run of just two wins from their next 13 matches followed, causing the slump to 36th in the world but a return of optimism to the National Stadium will no doubt be buoyed by the latest ranking update.

The Republic of Ireland have enjoyed an even bigger bump, moving five places to joint 29th with Serbia and Venezuela. The shift follows their 1-0 victories over Gibraltar and Georgia in Mick McCarthy's first two games in charge.

Meanwhile, England have climbed one place to fourth after their crushing Euro 2020 qualifying victories over the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

Gareth Southgate's men are headed only by Belgium, France and Brazil after overtaking Croatia, the side who ended England's World Cup dream at the semi-final stage in Russia last summer.

England opened their Group A campaign with a 5-0 rout of the Czechs at Wembley before coming from behind to win 5-1 in Podgorica last month as their rich vein of form continued.

Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales remain in 19th place following their 1-0 home win over Slovakia.

However, Scotland slipped four places to 44th, immediately behind Australia, Nigeria and Greece, after their 3-0 humbling in Kazakhstan and a 2-0 win in San Marino.

Israel made up the most ground in the top 100, rising eight places to 84th in part as a result of their 4-2 qualifying win against Austria.

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