CARDIFF, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Ireland stunned Wales with a 1-0 away victory to secure their place in the playoffs for the World Cup finals on Monday.
With both sides requiring a win to guarantee runners-up spot in Group D behind Serbia, it was Wales who made all the running but James McClean’s superb second-half strike ended their hopes of a first World Cup finals appearance since 1958.
McClean smashed home an unstoppable shot from Jeff Hendrick’s cross in the 57th minute and Ireland then defended tenaciously to break Welsh hearts.
Ireland finished the campaign with 19 points, two behind Serbia, who beat Georgia 1-0 to clinch top spot and an automatic place in next year’s finals.
They will join the seven other best second-place finishers in the draw for the two-legged playoffs. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ian Chadband)