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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 20 August, 2019
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Good evening everybody and welcome to our coverage of tonight’s massive clash at the Aviva Stadium.

Let’s get straight to the big news. The teams have been announced and here’s what the Irish lineup looks like.

Given; Christie, O’Shea, Keogh, Ward; McCarthy, Hendrick, Hoolahan, Brady, Walters; Murphy

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Given; Christie, O’Shea, Keogh, Ward; McCarthy, Hendrick, Hoolahan, Brady, Walters; Murphy

So, no place for Robbie Keane or Shane Long in the starting XI. Daryl Murphy and Stephen Ward get the nod from Martin O’Neill.

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And the Germany team looks like this. Nothing to fear, lads.

Neuer, Ginter, Boateng, Hummels, Hector, Ozil, Kroos, Gundogan, Reus, Gotze, Muller.

Emre Can doesn’t start while Bastian Schweinsteiger has picked up a late knock. Mattias Ginter slots in at right-back while Marco Reus, who memorably scored twice here before, is also included.

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Just a point will do for Germany to ensure qualification and a stalemate would be a lovely result for us too.

By the way, there are a litany of permutations but fear not. You don’t need a calculator – just this handy guide from us.

Read it right here.

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By the way, Stephen Ward is now at Burnley having signed for them in the summer of 2014. But he’s made one appearance this season and it came in a Capital One Cup defeat to Port Vale. That doesn’t bode well, surely?

On RTE, Martin O’Neill has said that the reason for Ward’s selection is because of a lack of options – ‘needs must’ and because Ward is a specialist left-back.

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The RTE panel, led by Eamon Dunphy, believe that if Ireland ‘play football’ then O’Neill’s team can get a result tonight. Many would argue that by ‘playing football’ will get Ireland a hiding.

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Jogi Löw rocking the shirt and scarf combo at the Aviva this evening. Sharp.

Joachim Lšw Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

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By the way, for those wondering why certain players are missing from the Irish setup tonight…

Glenn Whelan and James McClean are both suspended.

James McCarthy and Jon Walters are on a yellow and another tonight would see them ruled out of the final qualifier against Poland.

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We’ve got Niall Kelly and Ben Blake at the Aviva for us this evening.

Here’s Niall with some pre-game thoughts.

A couple of raised eyebrows here when the Irish team-sheet landed but it seems that, in Martin O’Neill’s mind at least, Stephen Ward’s natural defensive capabilities outweigh the fact that he has only played 90 minutes of competitive football this season. Shane Long must be wondering what he has to do to get a start but maybe O’Neill is hoping to use his pace when the German defence begins to tire in the second half.

It’s a risky strategy — by that stage, it could be 3-0 or 4-0.”

 
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The FAI have confirmed a full-house at the Aviva - 50,604 people there tonight.

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‘Let’s hope and pray that the Germans don’t fancy it’. Liam Brady doesn’t sound too hopeful, does he?

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With the Rugby World Cup on, we’ve been spoiled by the litany of great anthems. The German one is probably Tier 2, ain’t it?

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It sounds LOUD at the Aviva. Let’s hope the crowd won’t be silenced early on.

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Best comment so far:

The girlfriend said if Ireland win I’m getting kinky sex tonight. Come on Ireland, for the love of god win.”

What do you get if Germany win? Actually, never mind.

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Poland have taken an incredibly early goal against Scotland – three guesses who scored?

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3′ - Encouraging passage of play from the hosts. Brady comes inside, allowing Ward to get up on the overlap but his cross is way too close to Neuer.

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From a corner, Germany try to unlock in the left channel. There’s some space but the attempted cross is blocked by McCarthy. The guests have had plenty of the ball so far, inevitably. But already we’ve seen some very casual play from Neuer and his defence. Could be something to build on there.

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CLOSE! Quick reminder of how Germany can so easily switch the play and make Ireland chase shadows. Ginter is in acres of space to whip in the ball to the far post – Reus is all alone but his shot is deflected. From the corner, Boateng misses with a free header. What a chance.

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Meanwhile, in the stands, John’s nipped out for a quick bite.

John Delaney with Emma English Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

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Nice cameo from Hoolahan as he nicks the ball from Gundogan, races clear only to realise he’s the farthest player forward. He then checks back, checks back and rolls it to O’Shea.

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CLOSE! Another chance for Germany as the ball is rolled across the Irish area for Gundogan to hit – he side-foots towards the net but it’s deflected over the top by O’Shea. Dunne-esque stuff from the veteran.

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CLOSE! Ireland’s tactics are back-firing here. Ginter has the freedom of Dublin down the right side as Brady’s free-role seems to be causing confusion for the home side. Another right-wing cross is sent dangerously into the six-yard area but there’s Richard Keogh to push it out for a corner.

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PENALTY CLAIM! After that Keogh interception, the subsequent German corner is sent to the far post where Hummels grapples with O’Shea. The Dortmund man hits the deck and it appears like O’Shea pulled him down. No penalty though and that’s a lucky escape.

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OFFSIDE! Ozil sweeps it to the net but he’s too far forward. It’s a good decision – no controversy but Ireland are in big trouble with their left side. On that attack, Ginter was at the far post, completely unmarked. Walters now appears to be drifting to the left side to help out.

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Germany have had almost 75% of the ball after the opening 25 minutes. They’re about to take their seventh corner.

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Brief moment for Ireland as Hoolahan conjures some fancy footwork. But it’s all Germany. Not much in the way of goal attempts but you’d really worry for the home side if they concede.

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Goetze goes down after landing awkwardly when clashing with McCarthy. He’s receiving attention off the pitch.

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One Irish team could qualify for Euro 2016 tonight. And in Belfast, Steven Davis has given the North the lead against Greece. Victory assures them of a place in France next summer.

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SUBSTITUTION! Schurrle (on) – Goetze (off)

Goetze looks like he may have tweaked his groin and it’s the former Chelsea man who comes in.

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On RTE, Tony O’Donoghue has reported that Shay Given has been signalling to the bench for the last few moments. It could be injury-related. He doesn’t look like he’s too comfortable when the camera locks on him.

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Given doesn’t look good at all. He’s just thumped a ball up the pitch and winced when doing it.

David Forde would be the man to come in at half-time.

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SUBSTITUTION! Well, Given can’t even wait until the break. He signals to the referee and then hits the deck to get some treatment. It’s a knee problem and he clearly heard something or felt something when taking a goal-kick earlier.

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Well, I told a lie. Because Forde hasn’t got the nod. It’s Darren Randolph. And that’s a bit of an Irish football problem, isn’t it? Forde last played for Millwall in mid-August so his lack of game-time maybe has influenced the management’s decision. Randolph has had Premier League game-time with West Ham earlier this term.

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Hoolahan keeps the ball well in the left-back zone. Keeps calm, plays it inside. Ireland work it across into space through Hendrick…and then Keogh kicks it straight out of play.

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Well, it’s scoreless! That’s something. Thoroughly outplayed, not much desire to do anything else than chase Germany around. Hoolahan seems one step ahead of his team-mates when the Irish do have the ball but it’s all about the opposition. They haven’t got out of second or third gear and a draw suits them. So, they’re not really in much of a rush. But it’s inevitable their goal will come and it will be intriguing to see the Irish response.

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Some half-time thoughts from Niall Kelly who’s at the Aviva Stadium for us this evening.

Ireland are living on the edge here but so far so good as they repel wave after wave of German attack. You can’t fault the Irish workrate but as bodies get tired, that will become more and more challenging. Would we have taken  a scoreless first half before kick off? You bet!”

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‘I’d take Murphy off right now and get Gibson on’, says John Giles.

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Northern Ireland are 2-0 up in Belfast now and they’re on their way to France.

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More of the same early on here – Germany having all of the ball and Ireland happy to sit back and try and absorb.

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Pretty wild effort from Schurrle as he tries to whip a shot from the edge of the area to the top corner. It’s high, wide and not very handsome.

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Some encouraging moments for Ireland. Hoolahan and Brady combine well on the left and when the ball is finally lofted into the area, Walters shoulders Neuer out of the way and tries to help it to the net. Free-kick is awarded though.

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CLOSE! That really should be a goal. And one of the best goals of the qualifying campaign at that. From a decent position, Ireland’s awful free-kick is easily gathered by Neuer who instantly pings a magnificent pass up the right touchline for Muller. He sends in a perfect cross for Schurrle who’s first-time effort is too high. Really should’ve been 1-0.

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Scotland have responded and now lead Poland 2-1. Should Germany win here, that’s especially not good.

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If it stays like this…a reminder that Scotland face Gibraltar in their final game – y’know, when we’re away to Poland.

Group D

Pos. Team P GD Pts
1 9 15 20
2 9 21 17
3 9 12 16
4 9 5 14
5
Georgia
9 -5 9
6
Gibraltar
9 -48 0
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And in Belfast, Northern Ireland are 3-0 up. Steven Davis has added another and what an emphatic display from Michael O’Neill’s side.

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CLOSE! Neuer watches Murphy’s snap-shot wide as it skews off his left foot. A decent chance, actually but badly executed.

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SUBSTITUTION! Long (on) – Murphy (off)

Shane Long should provide a bit more mobility and energy and could stretch the Germans – certainly more than Murphy.

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CLOSE! And somehow Ireland survive. Germany easily sweep down the left side as Christie goes missing. Reus dribbles all the way to the by-line and whips it across the six-yard area. It misses everyone and what a fortunate escape.

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SUBSTITUTION! Meyler (on) – Ward (off)

Injury means the Burnley left-back goes off and the Corkman slots into the midfield. Brady has dropped to left-back.

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Wow! Where did that come from? Randolph launches one up-field, it bounces through and both Boateng and Hummels lose the flight of the ball. Long is in behind, races clear and from the right channel, he thumps a superb strike to the far corner. Brilliant, brilliant finish. Ireland are ahead!

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SUBSTITUTION! Bellarabi (on) – Ginter (off)

It’s up to Germany now. Do they really want their qualification to go to the wire?

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VERY CLOSE! Oh, dear. When your luck is in. Thomas Muller has missed an absolute sitter. Again, the trouble is down the Irish right side. The cross rolls behind a couple of bodies and breaks perfectly for Muller but instead of wrapping his left foot around the ball, he uses his right to send it back in the direction it came. It’s a firm side-foot but it’s wide of Randolph’s near post.

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CLOSE! Gundogan thumps one from distance and Randolph is called into action – tipping away at his near post.

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Going…

Shane Long scores their first goal Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Going…

Shane Long scores their first goal Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Gone…

Shane Long celebrates scoring their first goal Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

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So, right now, the Irish are in second place in Group D. A point against Poland will qualify us automatically for Euro 2016.

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We’re heading towards injury time here. Everyone’s nerves are shot. Meanwhile, Poland have drawn 2-2 with Scotland after a late, late equaliser.

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That Polish goal means this:

We need to win in Poland to gain automatic qualification. 

A draw will only be enough for a play-off place.  

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Well. We can all take a breath. ‘The greatest result for Ireland since 2001’ says Liam Brady.

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Thanks for staying with us for our coverage. So much more still to come on the site tonight. A fantastic moment for Irish sport and that Shane Long goal will live long in the memory.

About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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