Curtis strikes late equaliser to keep hopes alive
Noel King believes his Republic of Ireland side can still automatically qualify for next year’s finals despite last night’s draw.
Ronan Curtis snatched a point against Kosovo side in Mitrovica eight minutes from full-time. The striker controlled a long ball on the left before cutting inside and drilling a shot beyond Florjan Smakiqi.
Florjan Smakiqi had opened the scoring on 65 minutes. The midfielder connected with Larim Kastrati’s left-wing low cross to beat Kieran O’Hara from eight yards.
The result means King’s side will likely have to beat Germany in one of their duels over the last three games. While Ireland remain in second place, they will probably need at least seven points from their last three games to clinch a play-off spot or secure a spot in France next year automatically.
In a first half Leeds United defender Conor Shaughnessy should have hit the target on 16 minutes when the ball broke to him from a corner. The defender was unable to keep his shot down. O’Hara was left static when Dren Feka’s header smacked off the crossbar at the other end and relieved that Smakiqi angled his shot wide. Kastrati came alive after the break, twice fizzing shots past O’Hara’s near post before squaring for the opener.
After Curtis has cancelled out the opener, Harry Charsley was denied a late winner from close-range by Smakiqi.