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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 18 February, 2019
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Automatic qualification up for grabs and the talking points from Ireland's win over Germany

An outstanding performance from the Boys in Green earned them a 1-0 win over Germany.

Robbie Brady hugs goalscorer Long.
Robbie Brady hugs goalscorer Long.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

1. Long proves the hero on an unbelievable night

IRELAND BOSS MARTIN O’Neill caught plenty of people out by opting for Daryl Murphy as the lone striker ahead of Shane Long and Robbie Keane for the visit of the world champions. 

Waterford man Murphy scored 27 goals for Ipswich Town last season, but hadn’t taken his chances on recent international appearances against Gibraltar, England and Scotland, and is without a goal at club level this term.

Murphy looked isolated in the first half and lacked the pace to get in behind the German defence when the ball was played over the top, so it came as little surprise that he was taken off on 65 minutes.

Long will undoubtedly have been disappointed at having to settle for a place on the bench and, fortunately, took that anger out on the ball minutes after his introduction — smashing it past Manuel Neuer after beating three defenders for pace to latch onto Darren Randolph’s long kick down field.

Throwing Long on for the final half an hour looks a master-stroke from O’Neil as Ireland recorded one of their greatest ever wins, but many will argue he should have been there from the start.

2. Fringe players step up to the plate

Ireland went into the game missing a raft of first team players and were robbed of two more, goalkeeper Shay Given and full-back Stephen Ward, during the match.

Let’s face it, the Germans were guilty of missing some golden opportunities and could have won the game comfortably on another day but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Irish players put in a trojan effort from first whistle to last.

Jon Walters, John O’Shea, Wes Hoolahan and James McCarthy led the charge while Cyrus Christie and Richard Keogh were excellent despite their lack of international experience.

Equally, Darren Randolph put in an assured performance on just his third senior appearance when questions were asked in the second half.

When you consider Ireland’s starting line-up consisted of five players plying their trade in the Championship, this victory, against a side who were lifting the World Cup just 15 months ago, has got to rank up there among the best in our history.

3. Automatic qualification still up for grabs

We all had one eye on developments in Hampden Park throughout the night, where Poland and Scotland took part in the other big Group D game. 

It seemed the perfect start from an Irish point of view as Robert Lewandowski fired the Poles in front after just three minutes.

However, with Ireland and Germany still scoreless, news came through that Matt Ritchie and Steven Fletcher had turned that one on its head.

When Shane Long then put Ireland ahead, the best result for us would have in fact been a Scottish victory — but that man Lewandowski popped up to nick Poland a draw at the death.

Heading into Sunday’s final group game in Warsaw, Ireland are now guaranteed third place and a play-off spot regardless of results.

If O’Neill’s can manage a 2-2 draw or better, however, it would ensure them automatic qualification to next year’s finals in France.

Who’d have thought we would be saying that a month ago?

There are a couple of surprise selections in Martin O’Neill’s team for tonight’s Euro 2016 qualifier

As it happened: Republic of Ireland v Germany, Euro 2016 qualifier

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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