Out of the nine World Cup qualifying groups, only the best eight runners-up go through to the play-offs.
Ireland now knew they just needed to see the game out while Wales, who knew a draw might be enough soon found out it would not as results elsewhere went against them.
He assumes more of an attacking role for Wales, given license to roam as opposed to the withdrawn role he often plays in the holding two at club level, where Arsene Wenger is spoilt for choice in attack with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to call upon.
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While Wales are without Bale, O'Neill believes the absence of Coleman is "as big a loss to us".
Aleksandar Prijovic's 74th-minute goal in Belgrade ensured Serbia topped the group by two points and was back in soccer's biggest stage for the first time since 2010.
"Whatever we've done [in the past], that's not going to help us tonight".
In this scenario, the last play-off place comes down to "the drawing of lots". "This group of players is as good as any I've worked with".
Incredibly a 90th minute goal from potential Gary Mackay Hall of Fame entrant Pyry Soiri gave the Finns a shock draw in Rijeka, meaning a draw between Ukraine and Croatia in the final round will open up a path for us to reach the playoff. The game will kick-off at 7:45 PM on October 9. "It's the last game of the campaign, all or nothing for both teams".
A draw means Ireland finish third.
Iceland traveled and trashed Turkey, while Croatia host Finland and they are priced at 8/11 to win the group and qualify automatically.
Though the same could be said for Wales who pinned Ireland back early on with Hal Robson-Kanu headed a corner wide after three minutes and Randolph had to tip an Aaron Ramsey shot over.
The Irish, who can secure second spot in Group D and a playoff spot with victory over Wales, must cope without the 30-year-old Long, who played against Moldova on Friday and has won more than 70 global caps.
Coleman, however, proved very generous with his time and was more than happy to answer any question thrown at him, speaking at length to the Irish media, which prompted the obvious line about his own Dublin connections and whether they would cross his mind going into tonight's game.