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 By Nick Miller

Portugal rely too much on Cristiano Ronaldo, Ireland's hopes are fading

The ESPN FC panel discuss Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick over Armenia, and whether Portugal can progress in qualification.

It's heading toward crunch time in the 2016 European Championship qualifiers. ESPN FC's Nick Miller takes a look at some of the biggest talking points from this week's games.

Portugal jump on Ronaldo's back ... again

We have seen this season for Real Madrid that Cristiano Ronaldo, as he continues his relentless pursuit of cartoon goal-scoring numbers, is rarely happier than when he's doing something on his own. Ronaldo looks positively irked when his teammates score, with the notion of it being...

 By Kevin Palmer

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan content with draw in Dublin

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan was satisfied with his side's 1-1 draw against what he described as the Irish "warriors" in Dublin, but he was keen to play down the significance of the result.

A Shaun Maloney shot that deflected into the Ireland goal via John O'Shea's back gave the Scots a draw that keeps them two points ahead of one of their chief Euro 2016 rivals and in pole position to secure a top-three finish in qualifying Group D.

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"They are warriors, they stick in there and they made it difficult...

Scotland stay ahead of Ireland in Group D after managing draw in Dublin

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The Republic of Ireland were really hoping for a win to further buoy their European qualification hopes but had to settle for a draw with Scotland.
The ESPN FC crew break down Group D of Euro 2016 qualifying, where Poland still remain a point clear of Germany atop the group.
The Republic of Ireland's hopes of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships were hit after only managing a draw against Scotland.

Scotland stayed two points clear of the Republic of Ireland in their European Championship qualifying Group D after hanging on for a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw at the Aviva Stadium.

The Irish dominated an occasionally tetchy game and deservedly took the lead in the 38th minute through forward Jon Walters, after Scots' keeper David Marshall had saved a Darryl Murphy header.

However, Shaun Maloney, who scored in the 1-0 win for Scotland when the two sides met at Celtic Park in November, levelled...

 By Kevin Palmer

Scotland's Euro 2016 dream is closer to reality after Ireland draw

The Republic of Ireland were really hoping for a win to further buoy their European qualification hopes but had to settle for a draw with Scotland.
The ESPN FC crew break down Group D of Euro 2016 qualifying, where Poland still remain a point clear of Germany atop the group.
The Republic of Ireland's hopes of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships were hit after only managing a draw against Scotland.

Three observations from the Republic of Ireland's 1-1 draw with Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. 

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1. Scotland cautious in Dublin

Gordon Strachan's Scotland appreciated that a draw would be a more than acceptable result, as they look to push for a top-three finish in Euro 2016 qualifying Group D, and that mindset affected their ambitions in the first half.

Eager to keep a tight formation and not give anything away, caution rather than ambition was their plan in Dublin. The lack of quality...