Rangers star Steven Davis’ World Cup hopes were officially ended on Tuesday as Bulgaria came from behind to defeat Northern Ireland 2-1 in Sofia.
Davis and co. only had a slim chance of progressing to Qatar 2022 before the match, after losing 2-0 to Switzerland in Geneva on Saturday.
The visitors – decimated by injuries and call-offs – led 1-0 at the interval through a Conor Washington goal, but it could and should have been more based on their dominance.
Bulgaria regrouped for the second half, though, and Ian Baraclough’s side lost their intensity.
Fine left-footed strikes from Todor Nedelev in the 53rd and 63rd minutes turned things around and NI weren’t able to respond in the closing stages of the game.
Only a victory could have kept their faint hopes of qualification alive, so they’re now officially out of the running and have dropped down to fourth in the five-team Group C.
Davis played the full 90 minutes in Bulgaria and received a WhoScored.com rating of 6.3 for his performance.
The defeat will perhaps be even more disappointing for the 36-year-old Ger than for the vast majority of his NI teammates, as even though he’s not yet hinted at international retirement, it’s now near-certain that he’ll never play at a World Cup.
There was better news for a fellow Ibrox midfielder, though, as his Qatar 2022 hopes were boosted by an important win.