Republic of Ireland 1-0 Germany: Long comes off the bench to secure historic win
Long scores again: Shane Long's goal that beat the world champions. Photo courtesy: belfasttelegraph.co.uk

The Republic of Ireland claimed a 1-0 win over the World Champions Germany at the Aviva Stadium thanks to a second half goal from substitute Shane Long, as their dream of qualifying for a second straight European Championships edged closer.

Going into the game, the Irish were sitting in third place, two points behind second placed Poland and four points ahead of Scotland. Martin O'Neil's men needed one win to guarentee a play-off place in Group D, but a defeat for Scotland at Hampden Park against Poland, would give the boys in green a third placed finish.

First half

The game started off as you would expect with the World Cup winners dominating strong parts of the game as well as possession, but couldn't seem to find a way past the Irish defence who were incredible in parts of the first half.

Mesut Ozil gave the Irish supporters a big fright when he found the back of the net, but the Arsenal midfielder was stood in an offside position and the home faithful were relieved. John O'Shea made a heroic block from a shot by Ilkay Gundogan as the Borussia Dortmund midfielder seemed to have found the opener, but the home side were holding on. Jerome Boateng also found himself with room in the box failed to convert his header from Toni Kroos' corner.

As many Irish fans had one eye on the events unfolding in Glasgow, they would have been happy to see that Robert Lewandowski continued his impressive scoring record to find the net against the Tartan Army. 

However, they would have been upset to see what was going on the pitch as after a goalkick from Shay Given, the Irish keeper seemed to have pulled up and was forced off before half time and replaced by Darren Randolf of West Ham United. Things got worse for the home side as Matt Ritchie grabbed a sensational equaliser for Scotland to throw the group wide open.

After the break, Ireland seemed to have taken small control of the game but Germany regained possession. Martin O'Neil replaced Daryl Murphy with Shane Long who suprised many by not starting the game. Ireland suffered another injury at the time of the substitute as Stephen Ward had to come off and was replaced by David Meyler.

Meanwhile in Scotland, Steven Fletcher made his mark on the game as Scotland took the lead as Ireland's chances of third place seemed to be in jeopordy despite the score in Dublin.

Long puts Ireland ahead

Problems kept coming for Ireland and so did the threat of Germany, however they managed to take a shock lead though Long. Darren Randolf was in hold of the ball and sent a long kick to striker Long, who outpaced the German defence to fire past Manuel Neuer in the Germany goal, send the Aviva into erruption. The dream was almost a reality as many of the home supporters could sense a moment of history.

However, Germany kept coming at the Irish defence and Thomas Muller has a glorious chance at the edge of the box, but failed to hit the target before Boateng forced Randolf into making a strong save from a long range shot moments later.

The Irish were on the verge of history and their dreams came true as the referee blew for the full time whistle. Ireland had beaten the World Champions, and somewhat didn't really care about the scores in Scotland, despite Lewandowski's late equaliser for Poland.

The delight was clear to see as the whole squad of Ireland were on the pitch celebrating like they had won the Euro Championships, but if Ireland beat Poland in Warsaw on Sunday, they won't need to worry about play-offs. A defeat or draw on Sunday would mean the Irish still have a chance of qualification, but will have to face a two-legged game to do so.

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