THE Republic of Ireland will face France in the Euro 2016 knockout rounds after sealing a shock victory over Italy on Wednesday night.
Martin O’Neill’s men needed three points to ensure progression from Group E, and they got them thanks to a late header from Norwich City’s Robbie Brady.
Now the Irish will face the hosts and tournament favourites in the round of 16 as they seek redemption for the infamous Thierry Henry handball that kept them out of the 2010 World Cup.
Online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au is paying $8 for ROI to slay another giant of European Championship football and book passage to the quarterfinals.
But Ireland weren’t the only fairytale to come out of what was a thoroughly entertaining group stage.
All four of the Great British and Irish qualifiers reached the knockout rounds, with Wales beating England to top spot in Group B.
The Dragons will face Northern Ireland in the last 16, while England will have to negotiate Iceland – another of the competition’s inspiring underdog tales.
Arnor Ingvi Traustason scored with the final play of the game to give the tiny Nordic nation a 2-1 win against Austria on Wednesday, but that wasn’t even the highlight of Group F.
After drawing with both Iceland and Austria, Portugal needed at least a point in their closing group game to avoid an embarrassing early exit.
Hungary did their level best to ensure they didn’t get it.
The upstart Magyars led early through a Zoltan Gera stunner, but a slick Nani finish saw the Portuguese draw level early in the second half.
Then all hell broke loose as the Hungarians twice took the lead through Balazs Dzsudzsak in the space of eight minutes, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to equalise shortly afterwards each time.
It ended 3-3, with both sides going through to tricky round of 16 fixtures – Hungary against Belgium, Portugal against Croatia.
Also featuring this weekend are Switzerland and Poland, who will ring in the knockout phase on Saturday afternoon in Saint-Etienne, while Germany will take on a very beatable Slovakia side.
But the marquee fixture won’t take place until Monday, when Italy and Spain will face off at Stade de France in a replay of the Euro 2012 final.
Round of 16 fixtures and match odds
All dates and times listed according to Central European Summer Time (CEST)
Saturday, June 25, 2016
3pm – Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne
Switzerland – $3.10
Draw – $3
Poland – $2.62
6pm – Parc des Princes, Paris
Wales – $2
Draw – $3
Northern Ireland – $4.20
9pm – Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens
Croatia – $2.50
Draw – $2.90
Portugal – $3.10
Sunday, June 25, 2016
3pm – Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon
France – $1.45
Draw – $4
Republic of Ireland – $8
6pm – Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Villeneuve-d’Ascq
Germany – $1.45
Draw – $
Slovakia – $8
9pm – Stade Municipal, Toulouse
Hungary – $6.50
Draw – $3.60
Belgium – $1.57
Monday, June 27, 2016
6pm – Stade de France, Saint-Denis
Italy – $4.20
Draw – $3
Spain – $2.10
9pm – Allianz Riviera, Nice
England – $1.57
Draw – $3.60
Iceland – $7
Euro 2016 outright betting
France – $5
Germany – $6
Belgium, Spain – $6.50
England – $10
Croatia – $11
Portugal – $12
Italy – $19
Poland, Wales – $26
Switzerland – $51
Hungary, Republic of Ireland – $101
Iceland, Slovakia – $151
Northern Ireland – $201
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