Northern Ireland stalemate forces Italy into World Cup qualification play-offs

Italy failed to secure automatic World Cup qualification on Monday night as they were held to a goalless draw by a spirited Northern Ireland side and were forced into the play-offs.

Conor Washington even had a chance to snatch a famous victory in the closing stages as Northern Ireland frustrated Italy at Windsor Park.

Switzerland claimed a dominant 4-0 win over Bulgaria to ensure they finished top of Group C and the Euro 2020 Champions will have to go into the play-offs in a bid to secure a place at Qatar 2022.

All the goals came in the second half, with Noah Okafor, Ruben Vargas, Cedric Itten and Remo Freuler adding their names to the scoresheet in the crucial victory.

Scotland clinched a seeded position in the play-off semi-finals after a 2-0 win over Denmark.

Scotland secured a home play-off match after beating Denmark
Scotland secured a home play-off match after beating Denmark (Jane Barlow/PA)

Steve Clarke’s team needed at least a point to be in with a chance to secure a home draw, but John Souttar – who was playing for the first time since being sent off against Israel three years ago – headed in the opener for his first international goal.

Scotland then held the Danes at bay before striker Che Adams scored a late second to ensure a seeded play-off place.

England strolled to 2022 World Cup qualification as they thrashed lowly San Marino 10-0, with Harry Kane hitting four in the Group I finale.

Harry Maguire, an own goal from Filippo Fabbri, Emile Smith Rowe on his full debut, a first goal for Tyrone Mings, one off the bench for Tammy Abraham and a Bukayo Saka header would wrap up the win at a canter for the beaten Euro 2020 finalists.

Also in England’s group, Hungary beat second-placed Poland 2-1 but it was not enough to affect qualification, while Albania won 1-0 against Andorra.

Elsewhere, Austria stormed to a 4-1 win over Moldova, while Israel only narrowly beat the Faroe Islands 3-2.

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