Germany fall to long-ball tactics from severely depleted Irish side

DUBLIN • It was perhaps apt that substitute Shane Long scored the winner that stunned the world champions, with Germany coach Joachim Loew blasting Ireland for scoring from their "100th long ball".

Yet, there could be no denying a historic Thursday night for the home side, who threw Euro 2016 qualifying Group D wide open and guaranteed themselves at least a play-off spot with a game left to play.

Long, just five minutes after coming on, latched on to a deep cross from substitute goalkeeper Darren Randolph to drill past Germany stopper Manuel Neuer.

The 70th-minute strike took Ireland, who visit Poland tomorrow, level on 18 points with their next opponents. Germany, group leaders on 19 points, needed only a draw to qualify in Dublin.

"To be better than the world champions over two games is deserving of winning the tournament but we haven't even qualified," said Ireland coach Martin O'Neill, referring to Ireland's 1-1 draw with die mannschaft in the corresponding game in Gelsenkirchen last year.

LONG AND SHORT OF IT

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.''

JOACHIM LOEW, Germany manager

"Unfortunately, we have still a long way to go."

Few gave Ireland a chance against a German side ranked 52 rungs higher in the Fifa standings, particularly with O'Neill having to send out a severely weakened side. Regulars like Glenn Whelan, Marc Wilson, Ciaran Clark and James McClean were absent through injury or suspension.

On the pitch, they had few chances too.

The hosts had just two shots on target and 28 per cent possession but managed to conjure one of their greatest-ever results.

Their clinical finish was in contrast to Germany's profligacy. The visitors had 16 shots, yet forced saves from Shay Given just thrice - all in the second half.

Even Thomas Mueller, scorer of eight goals in the qualifiers, wasted a late chance from close range when the attacking midfielder fired wide.

"It was one of the most unnecessary defeats we have suffered in recent years," said Loew after the 0-1 loss.

"It was to be expected that we would face nine or 10 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."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline 'Germany fall to long-ball tactics from severely depleted Irish side'. Print Edition | Subscribe