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O'Neill: We will go to Celtic Park full of confidence thanks to Germany equaliser

The Ireland boss believes the world champions will still top Group D despite their under-par performances, however.

O'Neill speaking at today's press conference.
O'Neill speaking at today's press conference.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

JOHN O’SHEA’S INJURY-time equaliser against Germany has ensured that Ireland will travel to Glasgow with an extra spring in their step, according to manager Martin O’Neill.

The Sunderland defender’s 94th-minute goal in Gelsenkirchen earlier this month earned the Boys in Green a 1-1 draw meaning they sit joint-top of Group D on seven points after three qualifiers.

In two weeks’ time, Celtic Park hosts what is sure to be an evenly-matched contest between Ireland and Scotland — who have shown considerable improvement under Gordon Strachan — and O’Neill believes their recent results will stand them in good stead.

“It was obviously a big confidence booster to score in the last minute of the game and get something from the world champions on their own pitch so you can imagine what it was like travelling back,” O’Neill said today.

“Players have naturally gained confidence from that and just a sense that they can go. Scotland will not be easy and they are flying at the moment. Gordon Strachan has them playing very well and it was a great result for them out in Poland, particularly a couple of days after Poland had beaten Germany.

“If nothing else, we must go there with some confidence and it’s a point away from home against the world champions. You can imagine what it will do for the spirit of the team as well.”

When asked if he felt there was little between the teams, O’Neill added: “Scotland have been together under Strachan considerably longer. Eventually whether that makes a big difference or not I don’t know but they are in their stride at this minute and we’re trying to get a bit of momentum going ourselves.

“We wouldn’t be going there and fearing the game. We’ll go with confidence after the last couple of results.”

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Poland Scotland Euro Soccer Scotland boss Gordon Strachan. Source: Alik Keplicz

Weakened by a raft of injuries and a couple of retirements, Germany have had an indifferent start to this campaign — losing out to Poland for the first time in and also dropping two points against Ireland.

But, despite their uninspiring performances, O’Neill thinks the world champions will top the group leaving the others to battle it out for the other two qualification spots.

“I think you’d have a look at it after five games when everybody has played each other and Scotland and Germany both have played Gibraltar. I wouldn’t bet against the Germans winning the group. I still think that they are still the strongest side, strongest squad, strongest everything.

“There’s only one more game this side of Christmas and by the time they come around again to play in March, I still see the Germans being very strong. Whether they have a hangover from the World Cup, I don’t know, but they’re still strong. They will win the group and it’s still a fight for second and third place. That’s how I see it.”

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Ben Blake

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