The Republic of Ireland prevailed in a clash of titanic proportions against Wales on Monday night to secure second place in Group D, and a play-off place to keep their hopes of qualifying alive. They haven't appeared at a World Cup Finals since 2002, so passion was running high as the two nations entered the game.
Wales, who were without their talisman Gareth Bale, fell short of qualifying after West Brom midfielder James McClean smashed the ball past Wayne Hennessy in the 57th minute to give the Republic of Ireland a memorable win.
🎶God save our James McClean— Dodge (@seidodge) October 9, 2017
Long live our James McClean
God save McClean 🎶🇮🇪
The Welsh will be disappointed with the result after reaching the semi-final stage at the Euro's last summer, but despite dominating the game, Martin O'Neil's resilient performance earned them a deserved win to keep their hopes of qualifying intact.
Although McClean has often been viewed as somewhat of a controversial figure in the Premier League at times, he was the hero of a whole nation on Monday.
His celebration after the final whistle showed just what it means to both the players and the fans, as he celebrated in typical Irish fashion with his heart on his sleeve.
The possibility of automatic qualification almost seemed likely for Ireland as well until Serbia eventually found a way past Georgia with fifteen minutes to go. The Irish will now have to wait until 17th October to determine who they'll be facing in the play-offs, with the matches scheduled for mid November.