Sports betting

Weekend Review: World Cup woe for Ireland as flat racing season starts

International football sees a lull in turnover as punters flock to alternative sports including cricket and F1

A set of shocks in the weekend’s international football fixtures left the bookies beaming as European minnows found themselves in dreamland.

Ireland fell to an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Luxembourg courtesy of a late winner for Dynamo Kiev’s Gerson Rodrigues, leaving them bottom of their World Cup qualifying group after two games.

The result means Ireland manager Stephen Kenny remains without a win from his first 10 games since taking charge.

England navigated a potentially tricky fixture away to Albania, with goals from Harry Kane and Mason Mount securing all three points for the Three Lions.

Elsewhere, the world’s number one ranked team Belgium could only muster a draw against the Czech Republic, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal let a two-goal lead slip against Serbia.

Kindred Group’s Ali Gill said: “A quiet weekend of football really as World Cup qualifiers took centre stage.

“No surprise England’s comfortable win over Albania went the way of the players, although Belgium drawing with the Czech Republic, Portugal drawing with Serbia and, shockingly, Ireland losing to Luxembourg, all went our way as the weekend of football all told was a good one for us,” he added.

Staying with international football, England’s Under-21 side find themselves on the edge of elimination from the Under-21 Euros after a 2-0 defeat to Portugal, with manager Aidy Boothroyd under intense pressure.

Ladbrokes’ Alex Apati said: “Losing to Portugal isn’t as shocking as Ireland losing to Luxembourg, granted, but back-to-back defeats for Aidy Boothroyd’s side haven’t gone down well with punters who saw little to no value in the senior team.”

William Hill’s Rupert Adams said the lack of Premier League action saw punters grab the upper hand across other events.

He said: “Turnover is never good for international weekends and the England games were very poor to say the least. Punters also got the upper-hand in the boxing and the cricket where money was around for India. Lewis Hamilton also stiffed us in the F1.”

Elsewhere, in horseracing, the first day of the flat racing season got underway, as the bookies got the better of punters at Doncaster.

Gill said: “At Doncaster the official first day of the flat racing season took place, with the Unibet Lincoln the highlight of the card. The very well backed Eastern World finished a disappointing 11th, with Haqeeqy running out the 9/2 winner and leaving us in the black.”

Betfred’s Alan Firkins added: “The racing boys are still buzzing after an enthralling Cheltenham, but the Flat took centre stage at Donny on Saturday – and what a poignant, wonderfully appropriate result in the Lincoln.

“Sheikh Hamdan’s daughter Hissa owns the winner Haqeeqy, an emotional Town Moor scorer as everyone absorbs the terribly sad news of the great man’s recent passing,” he concluded.

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