Trapattoni wish granted as Ireland draw Estonia

Republic given weakest opponents in Euro 2012 play-offs while Bosnia must face Portuguese

After the Republic of Ireland's passage to the play-offs was eased by the erroneous dismissal of Armenia's goalkeeper on Tuesday night, the Irish Times ran a poll asking if readers believed Giovanni Trapattoni was "a lucky manager".

Nearly two-thirds said he was. Confirmation that they were right followed yesterday when Zbigniew Boniek handed the Irish a play-off draw so favourable "Trap" could not have bettered it had he been able to script the draw.

Ireland will play Estonia, by some distance the weakest of their four possible opponents, with the second leg at home as Trapattoni had hoped. Bosnia, who were 12 minutes from qualifying when Samir Nasri won and scored the penalty that earned France a point, and qualification, in Paris on Tuesday, were presented with the toughest task: they face Portugal. In the other ties the Czech Republic meet Montenegro and Turkey play Croatia.

Estonia v Republic of Ireland

The Irish have only once previously reached the European Championship finals, under Jack Charlton in 1988, missing out at the play-off stage in 1996 and 2000. This time they should progress. Estonia do not have a single player based in the major western leagues – the nearest to it are Middlesbrough's Tarmo Kink and defender Ragnar Klavan of AZ Alkmaar – though they do have a trio of Russian-based players, notably striker Konstantin Vassiljev of Ankar Perm. Ireland face a side who have never reached a major finals and failed to score in six of their last nine internationals, losing all six, but qualified due to a trio of autumn wins, in Slovenia and home and away to Northern Ireland.

Kevin Doyle will be suspended for the first leg when the Irish will seek to keep a clean sheet, and maybe steal an away goal, but should be eligible for the return in Dublin on 15 November. Robbie Keane looks unlikely to make either match due to injury.

Prediction Republic of Ireland

Bosnia & Herzegovina v Portugal

Not much of a reward for Bosnia's heroics in Paris, but the Portuguese will be taking nothing for granted. They may have Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, but Bosnia are well-organised, very determined and have Edin Dzeko. Nevertheless, Portugal should have the edge.

Prediction Portugal

Czech Republic v Montenegro

Montenegro will feel they have a chance against one of the weaker Czech teams of recent years, one which was fortunate to finish above Scotland in qualifying. They will certainly worry the Czechs if they can reproduce the intensity they showed in the second half against England in Podgorica last week.

Prediction Montenegro

Turkey v Croatia

A repeat of the dramatic Euro 2004 quarter-final when Croatia scored in the last minute of extra-time, only for Turkey to snatch an equaliser and win on penalties. It could be just as hard to separate the teams, neither of whom are as strong as then, and both of whom failed to reach the 2010 World Cup. Second-leg home advantage may tilt the tie Croatia's way.

Prediction Croatia

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada