One more win will secure Germany’s place in the Euro 2016 finals next year in France, and tonight the Nationalmannschaft take on an injury-hit Republic of Ireland in Dublin. Bastian Schweinsteiger is a late omission for Joachim Löw’s side as Manuel Neuer takes the captain’s armband, while Borussia Dortmund’s Matthias Ginter comes in for Emre Can at right back to create another new Viererkette. Schweinsteiger’s place is taken by Marco Reus, who makes his first start in the Nationaltrikot since March.
It’s a pleasant evening in the Irish capital, where the two teams meet president Michael Higgins before the singing of the national anthems. Germany are in their now familiar all-white while the Irish are kitted out in all-green.
1 min. Germany kick off, and within thirty seconds create an opportunity. Jonas Hector finds Reus on the left, and the Dortmund man sends in a header towards Thomas Müller who sends a shot high over the bar.
3 mins. A good spell for the home team, and Steven Ward’s cross into the box is collected by Neuer.
4 mins. Wes Hoolahan handles and Germany win a free-kick out on the left. Reus’s punt into the Irish box is easily cleared by the men in green.
5 mins. The pressure is on now and the Mannschaft win a corner on the left. Reus takes it short to Mesut Özil, but the playmaker’s cross is too strong and floats wide.
8 mins. Germany win a corner out on the right, and Toni Kroos’s kick is met by Jérôme Boateng who sends a firm header it over the target.
11 mins. Another corner, and this time Kroos floats his kick over the area. İlkay Gündoğan shapes to shoot and is dispossessed, but the white shirts organise themselves quickly to prevent an Irish counterattack.
13 mins. The best move of the game so far as Mario Götze makes his way into the Irish penalty area, sending a cross in towards Gündoğan as Reus plays a smart dummy. Gündoğan’s shot is sweetly struck and heading towards the goal, but Irish skipper John O’Shea somehow gets a challenge in the deflect it over. The corner again comes to nothing.
15 mins. The busy Ginter finds plenty of space on the right and sends in a low and teasing cross towards Mario Götze at the far post. The Bayern man is poised to strike, but Richard Keogh is in to make a goal-saving challenge. Kroos’s corner is floated in and there’s a decent shot for a penalty as O’Shea looks to have his arms around Mats Hummels, but the Spanish referee waves play on.
19 mins. The ball is in the back of the Irish net, but a late flag goes up. Müller’s shot beats ‘keeper Shay Given, but despite not getting a touch on the ball Özil is deemed to be offside.
23 mins. There’s a good break down the left, but Jonas Hector’s attempted cross is way too strong.
24 mins. Jonathan Walters almost gets ahead of Hummels inside the German six-yard box, but can’t get enough purchase on his angled shot and Neuer collects.
26 mins. Germany have been threatening, but will be frustrated at the lack of a breakthrough. It’s nothing new, but the corners have been really disappointing.
30 mins. The men in white are passing it around nicely, but there is still no real sign of a breakthrough and Given hasn’t really been tested so far. Jogi Löw is starting to look a little impatient by the touchline.
33 mins. Play is going on, but Götze is receiving treatment off the pitch after getting a knock.
34 mins. Ward looks to make a charge down the left, but Ginter slides in to quell the danger. The Irish are sniffing German blood for the first time, and Jonathan Walters then gets a decent shot at goal which is deflected behind by Kroos.
35 mins. Götze can’t continue, and is replaced by André Schürrle.
37 mins. Yet another corner for Germany, which again comes to nothing as the well-drilled home side clear their lines.
39 mins. Corner number seven, and this time Müller has a go. His outswinging effort is not much better as it floats harmlessly over the danger area.
40 mins. Ginter and Müller combine nicely down the right, and Müller gets behind the green-shirted defence before pulling back a low cross which is pushed wide by Özil who is caught slightly off balance. Caught flat-footed, ‘keeper Given is left helpless as the ball skids narrowly wide of his right post.
43 mins. Given is looking slightly uncomfortable after taking a goal kick, and it’s Ireland’s turn to make an unexpected change. West Ham United’s Darren Randolph is for his competitive debut as the stricken Given is stretchered off.
45 mins. It’s all a bit messy as half-time approaches. Germany make a meal of clearing their lines, and are guilty of giving the ball away far too cheaply. There’s going to be three additional minutes.
45+3 mins. The whistle blows for half time.
Given the relative strengths of the two sides it is slightly surprising to see the game still goalless, but the Irish have worked hard to keep the visitors out. Jogi Löw’s side look as though they have plenty to spare, but their mission to score the perfect goal has so far come to nothing. A more direct approach will surely put this game to bed in the second half.
46 mins. The home side get things under way again.
50 mins. Germany have started the second half as they played much of the first, with plenty of tight triangles and close crisp passing. Schürrle has a speculative effort from distance, but sees the ball fly high over the target.
54 mins. A fantastic opportunity. Germany break at pace down the left as the Irish defence are caught cold by Neuer’s smart long ball to Reus, and the Dortmund man’s cross is perfectly delivered for Schürrle whose volley is lifted over the bar. The movement is fluid and beautiful to watch, but the action in the final third continues to be disappointing.
62 mins. The Irish make a rare foray forward, but it comes to nothing. Germany should be winning this comfortably, but somehow it is still goalless. As things stand Germany will be through to the finals with a point, while the Irish will have plenty to do to overhaul Scotland, who have come from behind to lead Poland 2-1 in Glasgow.
63 mins. Daryl Murphy has a shot from just outside the German penalty area which flies high and wide of the target.
65 mins. Shane Long comes on for Murphy as Irish coach Martin O’Neill makes his second change.
66 mins. A fantastic approach down the left from the Mannschaft, and Reus sends a sharp cross that skids across the face of the Irish goal. It’s all hands to the pump now for the men in green, and Germany look as thought they are ready to crank things up.
69 mins. The third change for the Irish as Ward makes way for David Meyler.
70 mins. It’s all about the long game. Or should that be the Long game. A hefty clearance from Randolph finds substitute Long, who outfoxes both Hummels and Hector before sprinting in on goal. He makes it inside the area just as Boateng arrives, and lashes the ball firmly with his right foot into the top left-hand corner of the goal past the helpless Neuer. Out of nothing, the Republic are in front with the perfect route one sucker punch.0-1.
Jérôme Boateng is unable to get across in time to stop Shane Long, whose thumping right-footed effort puts the Irish in front.
77 mins. The Nationaltrainer makes an attacking change, with Karim Bellarabi coming on for Ginter.
78 mins. There’s another attack down the left for the men in white engineered by Hector and Reus, and the ball breaks for Müller who has time and space to line up his shot. Inexplicably, the usually accurate Müller sends his shot wide before collapsing to the ground holding his head in his hands. It is beginning to look like it is going to be one of those evenings.
85 mins. The final throw of the dice perhaps from the German coach, as TSG Hoffenheim’s Kevin Volland replaces Gündoğan.
86 mins. Hummels is booked for a soft challenge on Long.
90 mins. There’s plenty of huff and puff but no cigar from the World Champions, who have hardly lived up to their illustrious billing this evening. Four minutes of stoppage time have been added. Meanwhile Hoolahan is also booked for a challenge on Kroos.
90+4 mins. A speculative ball is flighted into the Irish box which is met by Hummels, but Randolph collects safely. That is probably the first “save” – if one can call it that – that either of the two Irish goalkeepers have had to make over the course of the ninety minutes.
90+5 mins. The final whistle is blown. A staggering result for the Republic of Ireland, who have now claimed four points from Jogi Löw’s side. With the final game against Georgia to play the Mannschaft are a point clear of both Poland and the Irish, and they still need a point to book their place in France. One more slip up in Leipzig could see them consigned to third place and a play-off, and nobody is counting any chickens yet – more so considering this performance.
Germany’s second defeat of the the campaign means that this is now the Nationalmannschaft’s worst qualifying performance since Euro 1984 – when they made it through to the finals despite losing home and away to… Northern Ireland.
v Republic of Ireland, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 08.10.2015
– / Long 70.
Germany: Neuer (c) – Ginter (77. Bellarabi), Boateng, Hummels, Hector – Gündoğan (84. Volland), Kroos – Müller, Özil, Reus – Götze (35. Schürrle)
Republic of Ireland: Given (43. Randolph) – Christie, O’Shea (c), Keogh, S. Ward (69. Meyler) – J. McCarthy – Hendrick, Brady – Hoolahan – Walters, Dar. Murphy (65. Long)
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain)
Assistants: Roberto Alonso Fernández (Spain), Juan Yuste Jiménez (Spain)
Goal Line Assistants: Jesús Gil Manzano (Spain), Carlos Del Cerro Grande (Spain)
Fourth Official: Marcos Álvarez Moreno (Spain)
Yellow Cards: Hummels / Hoolahan
Red Cards: – / –
Ball Possession: 66% / 34%
Attempts on Target: 9 / 3
Attempts off Target: 8 / 2
Corners: 4 / 11
Fouls Committed: 6 / 13