Ireland's slim chances of Euro 2016 progression are a little bit brighter after today

We'll have to beat Italy but the maths work in our favour with victory

Ireland's slim chances of Euro 2016 progression are a little bit brighter after today

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie 

Ireland still face a massive challenge in beating Italy on Wednesday night in our final Euro 2016 group game but should we achieve that difficult feat, it's good news.

The way Euro 2016 is set up, the four best third-place finishers of six go through to the first knockout round.

Beat Italy and we go to four points from three games, as we have one point in the bag already.

Should we win in Lille, a draw between Belgium and Sweden in the other group game would put the Belgians on four points but second in the group ahead of us on head-to-head.

A win for Belgium also keeps us third in that scenario, while a win for Sweden also leaves us outside the Top Two - assuming they maintain their goal difference advantage - but ahead of Belgium who would then finish bottom on three points.

Third-place is our best bet in the group in any case and it would be enough to qualify with a victory in Lille because the third-placed teams in Group A (Albania), Group C (Northern Ireland) and Group D (Turkey) have finished with three points apiece - indeed Northern Ireland are guaranteed a last-16 place above the other two due to goal difference.

 

As a victory would put us on four points, we would definitely be among the four best third-placed finishers in the group stage.

Of course, we still have to beat an Italy side with arguably the best defence at the tournament.