Germany coach Joachim Loew saw his world champions humbled 1-0 by the Republic of Ireland in Euro 2016 qualifying Thursday but blasted the home side for scoring from their “100th long ball”.
Shane Long’s 70th-minute strike gave Ireland a first ever competitive victory over the Germans that guaranteed at least a playoff spot, and offers them a serious chance of automatic qualification for the finals in France next summer.
Germany’s fate is in their own hands, with a home game against Georgia to come on Sunday and only one point required to reach the finals.
“It was one of the most unnecessary defeats we have suffered in recent years,” said Loew.
“It was to be expected that we would face nine or ten players behind the ball and Ireland hitting long, hopeful balls. They only had one opportunity to score.
“We created loads of chances but wasted too many of them. Against opponents like this we needed to score. We avoided 99 of those long balls but the 100th was one too many.”
Ireland now travel to Warsaw on Sunday to face Poland knowing victory or a score draw (2-2 or higher) will book their place in the finals.
Their dream lives on in a most unlikely set of circumstances that began with a 1-1 home draw with Scotland in June -– a result that many thought spelled the end for Martin O’Neill’s charges.
But they have fought back to take nine points from nine since, while Scotland won just one, with the three points on Thursday coming despite a combination of injuries and suspensions that saw Ireland field, on paper at least, a severely weakened side.
“I’m naturally delighted to win the game. Unfortunately we have still a long way to go yet but it was great to beat the Germans, the world champions, considering the things we had to overcome,” O’Neill said.
“It was a fantastic effort and they deserve enormous credit. In the first half I thought we gave away possession too easily but we were exceptionally brave in the second half to get on the ball which is what I asked.
“There was great courage to get on ball in tight situations and not panic. Then we came more into the game. Then Shane comes on and scores a wonder goal and gives us something to hold onto.”
While Lansdowne Road was awash with permutations pre-match, the maths are simple now for Ireland on Sunday after Poland’s 2-2 draw against Scotland in Glasgow on Thursday ended the Scots’ hopes of qualifying.
“We most likely have to win the game or draw 2-2, 3-3, 4-4….but let’s just try and win it,” said O’Neill. – Agence France-Presse