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Last-minute blow for Germany

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A late goal from centurion John O’Shea on Tuesday night robbed World Cup winners Germany of their just rewards and three points on the road to Euro 2016 in France. In spite of their clear superiority  Germany could only manage a 1-1 draw in the Euro qualifier and they now lie third in the group on four points behind Poland and Ireland (both on 7).

The 51,204 fans in Gelsenkirchen saw Germany take control of the of the game early on but a lack of invention and tempo prevented turning that evident superiority into goals against an Ireland side content to sit back. The former Bayern player Toni Kroos (71’) appeared to put the World Cup winners en route to victory with a well-placed shot from outside the box but O’Shea had the last laugh four minutes into added time with a goal in his 100th international that secured a surprise draw for the visitors.

“We played very, very well for long periods. It’s annoying to concede the goal right at the end of the game,” said Bayern pro Mario Götze, scorer of the winner at the World Cup Final three months ago, in a post-match interview. In addition to Götze there were three other FCB men in the starting line-up for Germany in Manuel Neuer, Jérôme Boateng and Thomas Müller.

Poland, captained by Robert Lewandowski, remain unbeaten at the top of Group D after drawing 2-2 with Scotland in Warsaw. Krzysztof Maczynski gave the hosts an early lead on 12 minutes before goals from Shaun Maloney (18) and Steven Naismith (57) turned the game round in favour of Scotland. The hosts refused to give up and Arkadiusz Milik netted a much-celebrated leveller on 76 minutes. Poland and Ireland share top spot on seven points ahead of Germany and Scotland (both on 4).

Switzerland, with Xherdan Shaqiri in the side, finally secured a win in their third outing in Group E. The Swiss clocked up a convincing 4-0 win in San Marino to move up to fourth place in the table. Goals from Haris Seferovic (10’/24’) and Blerim Dzemaili (30’) put the game to bed in the first half. Shaqiri (79’) rounded off the scoring after the break.

Denmark, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the line-up, suffered their first defeat in Group I. The 1992 European Champions lost 1-0 at home to Portugal in Copenhagen. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a last-gasp winner five minutes into added time to put the Iberian side second in the table. Hojbjerg played the full 90 minutes.