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Ireland receive major playoff boost following England's victory over Austria

Victory over Slovakia on Tuesday would see Ireland bypass the first playoff round.

Vera Pauw celebrating a famous victory for her side on Thursday.
Vera Pauw celebrating a famous victory for her side on Thursday.
Image: Tom Maher/INPHO

VERA PAUW’S REPUBLIC of Ireland can bypass the first round of World Cup playoffs if they beat Slovakia on Tuesday.

England’s 2-0 win over Austria earlier today, combined with Serbia and Belgium’s defeats to Portugal and Norway respectively last night, mean that three points for Ireland in Senec next week will see them qualify for the second playoff round as one of the three best group runners-up.

The other six group runners up will have to compete in a first playoff round on 6 October, with three of them eventually moving onto the second round.

The two highest ranked winners in the second playoff round (rankings based on the group stage and the playoff fixture itself) progress to the World Cup finals.

The third playoff winner will enter an inter-confederation round next February, in which they will compete in a three-team group with two sides from Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Cameroon, Senegal, Haiti, Panama, Chile, Papa New Guinea.

Alessia Russo and Nikita Parris’s goals for the European champions in Vienna sealed England’s automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and they could also shorten Ireland’s journey Down Under provided Pauw’s women can see off fourth-placed Slovakia in their final group-stage clash.

Gavin Cooney
Reports From Qatar

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Ireland guaranteed their place in at least the first round of the playoffs with a 1-0 victory over Finland at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday.

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