(Corrects second para to make clear Slovakia have not yet secured playoff spot)
By Philip O’Connor
Oct 8 (Reuters) - An own goal by Chris Brunt put paid to Northern Ireland’s chances of being among the seeded second-placed teams in the World Cup playoffs, as they lost their final Group C qualifier 1-0 to Norway on Sunday.
Scotland’s draw with Slovenia allowed Slovakia to finish runners-up in Group F and stay in contention for a playoff spot, while Northern Ireland’s superior record meant their playoff place was secured before a ball was kicked in Oslo.
The home side were looking to end their campaign on a positive note, and a looping high ball from captain Stefan Johansen in the 71st minute forced Brunt’s error as he tried to clear the ball from under the crossbar.
The Northern Irish, currently ranked fifth of the eight playoff teams with the top four being seeded, played plenty of tidy football but despite some late chances the game slipped away. (Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Christian Radnedge)