Götze injured as Germany fall in Dublin
Germany travelled to face Ireland on Thursday night needing only a draw to seal a berth at EURO 2016 in France, but the qualifying contest will instead go to the wire after the world champions fell to a 1-0 defeat against the courageous men in green, sub Shane Long scoring the only goal of the evening on 70 minutes. Potentially worse news from a Bayern point of view was the sight of Mario Götze hobbling off with a groin injury before half-time.
"We dominated the play but made nothing of our superiority," commented coach Joachim Löw, who started with all four of his Munich men: Thomas Müller, Götze, Jêrôme Boateng and Manuel Neuer, who also stood in as captain for the injured Bastian Schweinsteiger. Boateng (8) and Ilkay Gündogan (13) missed decent early chances but the openings soon dried up against the battling home team.
"We didn't play badly," Müller said afterwards, "we needed a quick passing game to open up space, and we did that well." However, the striker said, he and his team were wasteful: "We missed too many chances." Müller himself squandered one of the best opportunities for an equaliser with 12 minutes left: "I have to put that one away," the FCB youth product acknowledged, "that was bitter for me, but even more so for the team."
Neither Mats Hummels (72) nor Boateng (81) managed to cancel out Long's opener, meaning the Germans still need a point from their final qualifying fixture against Georgia in Leipzig on Sunday to be sure of an automatic spot at the European finals in France next summer.
Germany line-up: Neuer -- Ginter (Bellarabi 77), Boateng, Hummels, Hector -- Gündogan (Volland 84), Kroos - Müller, Özil, Reus -- Götze (Schürrle 35)
Lewandowski's streak continues
Robert Lewandowski and Poland also face a final-fixture shoot-out in the fight for a place in France. The Bayern striker handed his side a third-minute lead against Scotland in Glasgow, but Matt Ritchie (45) and Steven Fletcher (62) later turned the game on its head. Lewandowski himself struck a precious equaliser in the fourth minute of stoppage time at the end of the match.
"We need three points to be certain of qualifying," said Lewandowski prior to the do-or-die meeting with the Irish in Warsaw on Sunday. "But we're in front of our home crowd and they're our twelfth man. I hope we can do it."