Norwich City stars excel in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland victories
- Credit: PA
Norwich City winger Robert Snodgrass was the hero as Scotland pulled off a major shock by picking up their first win of the World Cup qualifying campaign against Croatia in Zagreb on Friday night.
Gordon Strachan's men headed into the match already out of the race for Brazil in 2014, massive underdogs to claim a positive result and a staggering 70 places behind Croatia in the world rankings.
But Snodgrass proved to be the difference between the two nations when he grabbed the only goal of the game to hand the Scots their first competitive victory since beating Liechtenstein in October 2011.
The visitors also had City pair Russell Martin and Steve Whittaker in their starting line-up, and all the Canary contigent played the full 90 minutes.
Indeed, Martin was on of the heroes on the night as a string of blocks helped the Scots maintain their lead until the end.
Meanwhile, Wes Hoolahan helped make two of Robbie Keane's three goals as the Republic of Ireland beat the Faroe Islands.
The City forward played the full 90 minutes – his first competitive international start – and was booked as Keane celebrated his record-breaking 126th cap with a hat-trick to bank three priceless World Cup points.
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The 32-year-old claimed his 57th senior international goal with an accomplished finish with just five minutes gone, and then added another 10 minutes after the break from Seamus Coleman's inviting cross.
But there was more to come as substitutes James McClean and Conor Sammon teamed up to hand him his third of the night on a plate with nine minutes of the game remaining.
In truth, Ireland – with Hoolahan turning in an impressive display – could and probably should have won even more comfortably as they dominated possession throughout.
It was a game Ireland simply had to win if they are to stand any chance of overhauling Austria and Sweden in the race for second place in Group C behind runaway leaders Germany.
And although they might have been more clinical at times, manager Giovanni Trapattoni will have been happy enough with a win which extended his side's run since their humiliation by the Germans to just one defeat in eight games.