There were certainly surprises in UEFA on Friday.
Serbia opened the door to Group D’s automatic spot, while Spain clinched the 11th berth in Russia thanks to another big win and a shocking draw between Italy and Macedonia.
[ MORE: U-17 World Cup Day 1 roundup ]
Wales and the Republic of Ireland found new leases on automatic qualifying life, while Group I remains quite murky.
Georgia 0-1 Wales — RECAP
Tom Lawrence of Derby County stepped up with a goal in the absence of Gareth Bale, as Wales made sure to put pressure on Serbia with the first result of the day.
Austria 3-2 Serbia
Crystal Palace man Luka Milivojevic scored in the 11th minute to put Serbia on the precipice of Russia, but Guido Burgstaller knotted it up 14 minutes later.
It stayed 1-1 until Stoke City’s Marko Arnautovic scored only to find an answer for Serbia in the form of Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic.
Yet Louis Schaub scored just before stoppage time to provide an intriguing final day to qualifying.
Republic of Ireland 2-0 Moldova
Daryl Murphy scored twice in the first 19 minutes to set up a massive final match at Wales on Monday
Matches and scenarios:
Wales vs. Ireland
Serbia vs. Georgia
Moldova vs. Austria
The read: Serbia can still advance automatically by holding serve against Georgia, but a draw would open the door to Wales or Ireland and Georgia proved no pushover for Wales on Friday. The Welsh can ensure no worse than second at home by beating Ireland, while either winner would pass a losing Serbia.
Italy 1-1 Macedonia
Giorgio Chiellini darted into the heart of the six to pass home a goal which sealed Italy’s place in the playoffs, though it was Aleksandar Trajkovski’s 78th minute goal which assured the Italians would not catch Spain.
Spain 3-0 Albania
Rodrigo, Isco, and Thiago Alcantara all scored before the match was a half-hour old to stylishly insure a spot in Russia.
Liechtenstein 0-1 Israel
Eitan Tibi’s 21st minute goal was the lone marker.
Scenarios: Spain wins group. Italy will head to the playoffs. Imagine, as it stands, the possibility of Italy vs. Portugal over two legs for a World Cup berth.
Turkey 0-3 Iceland
Johann Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), and Kari Arnarson (Aberdeen) scored to banish Turkey from qualification and put Iceland in the driver’s seat for a trip to Russia.
Kosovo 0-2 Ukraine
It was a second half own goal that kept Ukraine’s World Cup hopes alive, and set up a critical final day between Ukraine and Croatia in Kiev.
Croatia 1-1 Finland
Mario Mandzukic broke through in the 57th minute, but Pyry Soiri scored in stoppage time to score a fine result for Croatia and put Iceland in the Group I driver’s seat.
Matches and scenarios:
Ukraine vs. Croatia
Iceland vs. Kosovo
Finland vs. Turkey
The read: Iceland is through to Russia with a win. There are other scenarios to send Iceland through, including with a loss (That would require a Ukraine-Croatia draw).
Croatia can advance to Russia with a win and an Iceland draw or loss, and would currently finish second if it draws Ukraine.
Ukraine can finish first if it beats Croatia and Iceland loses to Kosovo, or if Iceland draws and Ukraine beats Croatia by more than a goal. Other scenarios exist, but are more complicated.
Turkey is now out.