Ireland stunned Wales with a 1-0 away victory to secure their place in the World Cup play-offs on Monday night.
With both sides requiring a win to guarantee runners-up spot in Group D behind Serbia, it was Wales who made all the running but James McClean’s superb second-half strike ended their hopes of a first World Cup finals appearance since 1958.
Ireland finished the campaign with 19 points, two behind Serbia, who beat Georgia 1-0 to clinch top spot and an automatic place in next year’s finals.
Sportsmail’s LAURIE WHITWELL delivers his player ratings.
James McClean’s superb second-half strike secured play-off spot for Republic of Ireland
McClean smashed home an unstoppable shot from Jeff Hendrick’s cross in the 57th minute
Wayne Hennessey – 5.5
Culpable for McClean’s goal by putting Williams under pressure with throw that invited Ireland on.
Chris Gunter – 6
Put in plenty of running but riled a little by McClean’s physical approach.
James Chester – 6
Got Wales fans mistakenly cheering when his glancing header rippled into side-netting.
Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was culpable for McClean’s winning goal
Ashley Williams – 6
Lost possession to Hendrick and was unable to recover as Ireland snatched the lead.
Ben Davies – 6
Not as attacking as he can be and misjudged a free far-post header, sending the ball into the stands.
Andy King – 6
Brought lots of energy in unfamiliar role on right flank before making way.
Joe Allen – 6
Forced off on the half hour with concussion after collision, depriving Wales of a key creative influence.
Joe Ledley – 6.5
Brought composure to midfield, keeping calm in some manic moments and did well to last full 90 minutes.
Wales forward Tom Lawrence played positively and carried the ball well on Monday night
Aaron Ramsey – 5.5
Things might have been different had his rasping early shot from range gone in but failed to step up.
Tom Lawrence – 6.5
As in Georgia, played positively and carried ball well. Shooting from range this time wasn’t as sweet.
Hal Robson-Kanu – 6.5
Had a physical battle up front and drew fine save from Randolph with glancing header.
Subs: Jonny Williams 7 (for Allen 37) Great turn and cross for Robson-Kanu chance, Ben Woodburn 6 (for King 65), Sam Vokes (for Robson-Kanu 71).
Manager: Chris Coleman 6
Set up his team to win the game through possession but failed to inspire the necessary display.
Hal Robson-Kanu (centre) watches on as his header is saved by Darren Randolph
Darren Randolph – 7.5
Fingertip save to Ramsey’s early shot and pulled off spectacular stop to keep out Robson-Kanu.
Cyrus Christie – 6.5
Shut the door down his right channel with good athleticism without offering too much going forwards.
Shane Duffy – 7
Drove shot from angle of area wide when in a good position and was towering presence.
Ciaran Clark – 7
Nearly scored an own goal when skewing clearance but was good in all other aspects.
Ciaran Clark was defensively solid for the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff on Monday night
Stephen Ward – 6.5
Produced a comedy slice for a corner but did well besides, not allowing much past.
Robbie Brady – 6.5
Took all Ireland’s set pieces, including deep free-kicks from halfway to put Wales under pressure.
David Meyler – 7
Screened Ireland’s defence with great coverage as Wales kept running up dead ends.
Jeff Hendrick – 7.5
Delivered again for his country, winning possession and crossing astutely for the vital opening goal.
Jeff Hendrick played a pivotal role in Republic of Ireland securing memorable victory
Harry Arter 6.5
Provided an industrial display in central midfield and cleverly stepped over Hendrick’s cross.
James McClean 8
Kept his head when presented with Ireland’s only real chance and finished superbly.
Daryl Murphy 6.5
Tasked with winning headers and chasing high balls and did so with endeavour for the whole time.
Martin O’Neill 7.5
Drew up a game-plan to frustrate Wales and then hit on the counter and it worked perfectly.
Subs: Glenn Whelan (for Arter 78), Kevin Long (for Murphy 90)
Booked: Murphy, Clark
Martin O’Neill drew up masterful game-plan to defeat Wales and secure a play-off place
Ref: Damir Skomina (Slovenia) – 5
Terribly officious performance that only fuelled the stop-start nature of the contest.