By Alan Duffy
While Ireland were thrashing Estonia in Talinn on Friday night, six other teams were battling it out for a place in Poland Ukraine next summer.
Slaven Bilic’s Croatian side are the closest to booking their place in the finals, after securing an impressive 3-0 win away in Turkey, courtesy of goals from Ivica Olic, Mario Mandzukic and Tottenham’s Vedran Corluka. Turkey boss Guus Hiddink was booed by the home fans after the game and looks unlikely to keep his job past next Tuesday.
The Czech Republic also find themselves in the driving seat in their tie, after winning 2-0 at home to Montenegro. Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky was the architect of both goals, which were scored by Vaclav Pilar and Tomas Sivok.
Finally, Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portuguese team-mates couldn’t find a way past Bosnia & Herzegovina on a rubbish pitch in the equally rubbish Bilino Polje stadium. The game, which ended 0-0, was a rather mediocre affair but Portugal will still head into Tuesday’s second leg as favourites.
Turkey’s Burak Yilmaz climbs above Croatian Gordon Schildenfeld. That’s right, ‘Gordon’.
Spurs star Vedran Corluka takes out Hamit Altintop
Corluka celebrates scoring the third goal
The Croats celebrate the victory
The Czech Republic’s Petr Jiracek gets in front of Savo Pavlicevic and Simon Vukevic
Petr ‘Batman’ Cech is still number one
A Czech celebration. But who’s the geezer on the right in the hat?
Portugal midfielder Moutinho only has eyes for the ball
Senad Lucic gets physical with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Is he dead?