With three of the international sides from close to home in action on Sunday in their European qualifying matches, it was always likely to be a mixture of success and disappointment for them. Scotland and Northern Ireland both enjoyed the taste of victory, while the Republic of Ireland had looked like suffering a demoralising defeat, until snatching a late equaliser at home to Group D leaders Poland. The minnows of Gibraltar made history against the Scots, scoring their first competitive goal to briefly draw them level in the match, but then suffered the tartan backlash as Steven Fletcher bagged the first hat-trick for a player from Scotland since 1969.

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Scotland were convincing 6-1 winners at home to Gibraltar in Group D, with Sunderland's Fletcher delighting the home crowd with three of their goals. Colin Stein was the last Scot to achieve that feat, some 46 years ago. The hosts led by a goal to nil after Shaun Maloney's successful penalty, only for Lee Casciaro's historic goal for the visitors to bring them level. In truth though, they were heavily outplayed throughout, with Maloney scoring a further penalty and Steven Naismith also on the score sheet for the Scots.

In the same group as Scotland, the Republic of Ireland trailed to Poland's 26th minute opener from Slawomir Peszko until the very last seconds, when Shane Long rewarded Martin O'Neill's side for their persistence with a very late equaliser. The match finished 1-1 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

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Poland remain top of the group, a point ahead of World Cup winners Germany, whose 2-0 success away to Georgia looks to have set them up nicely for an assault on the top spot in the second half of their Euro qualifying campaign. It would be a brave man who would pick against them not overhauling the Poles in the run-in. Scotland are level on points with the Germans, with the Republic a further two points back.

Northern Ireland continued their pursuit of a place in France in Euro 2016, thanks in the main to two first-half goals from Kyle Lafferty in Group F, although they were forced to sweat on the result against Finland at the end when Berat Sadik pulled one back in injury time. They held on for a 2-1 win. Things may not have worked out as hoped for Lafferty on the domestic scene at Norwich City, promoting a loan move out to Turkish Super Lig outfit Caykur Rizespor, but his success at international level seems to be continuing in much the same manner as David Healy used to do before him for the Irish.

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His goals at the weekend made it five in as many matches in this campaign. Romania top their group, just one point above the Irish, and look to be the favourites to maintain that position to the end. However, the Irish have a healthy four point cushion now over Hungary and one or two good results in their five remaining matches should see them close to that Euro spot, with the top two sides qualifying. Their next game at home to the leaders in June may be pivotal to their hopes.

With Wales and England topping their respective groups, the Northern Irish handily placed in theirs, and the Scots and the Republic still in the mix, there is still an outside chance of all five being there in France. #Football #Euro2016