DUBLIN (AP) Substitute Shane Long scored five minutes after coming on for Ireland to upset world champion Germany 1-0 and clinch at least a playoff place for Euro 2016 on Thursday.
Long struck in the 70th minute of their qualifier when he took goalkeeper Darren Randolph’s long kick over the German defense and fired the ball past Manuel Neuer to the top corner.
”He’s one of the best goalkeepers in the world so it makes it even that bit more special,” Long said after Ireland’s first ever competitive win over Germany.
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”It was an unexpected and unnecessary defeat,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said.
”He’s won a World Cup, he’s entitled to his opinion, and we were brilliant,” Irish counterpart Martin O’Neill said.
With one game in qualifying remaining, Germany tops Group D on 19 points, one ahead of Poland and Ireland, which meet in Warsaw on Sunday.
Robert Lewandowski scored his second goal deep in injury time for Poland to draw 2-2 with Scotland in Glasgow and end the home side’s hopes of a playoff.
Because of its superior goal difference, a draw on Sunday would be enough for Poland to qualify directly, while Ireland needs to win to avoid the playoffs.
Germany hosts already eliminated Georgia in Leipzig on Sunday, when a draw would be enough for Loew’s side.
Earlier Thursday, Georgia defeated Gibraltar 4-0 in Tbilisi. Both sides’ qualification hopes were already over.
Germany dominated from the off in Dublin with the home side living off scraps going forward.
Jerome Boateng headed over in the ninth, and only a desperate block from Irish defender John O’Shea prevented Ilkay Gundogan scoring four minutes later.
Richard Keogh cut out Matthias Ginter’s cross for the waiting Mario Goetze, who later went off with a groin injury that rules him out against Georgia.
Mesut Ozil thought he’d scored in the 19th but the goal was offside.
Jon Walters forced Neuer into action for the first time in the 24th. The Germany `keeper had otherwise little to do.
Counterpart Shay Given went off with a knee injury to be replaced by Randolph just before the break.
Ireland was much improved for the second half, when the German players seemed hassled by the home side’s tenacious play.
Daryl Murphy fired a warning shot in the 64th before Long finally found the breakthrough.
”When I came on, there were a few tired legs, and the gaffer (coach Martin O’Neill) said, just try test them in behind, put them under pressure, and luckily a ball came in for me and it was nice to finish it off,” Long said. ”I know (Neuer) kinda plays out of his goal a bit, and I had to hit it early and hard to get it past him.”
Germany’s best chances of the second half fell to Andre Schuerrle, who could only volley over from close range, and Thomas Mueller, who fired wide when he had all the time to pick his spot in the 78th
”When you get such a chance you have to take it. It’s bitter for me and worse for the team,” Mueller said.
Ciaran Fahey contributed from Berlin, Shawn Pogatchnik from Dublin.