Ireland stun Germany with late equaliser

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EUROPE – Martin O’Neill praised Ireland’s never-say-die spirit after John O’Shea celebrated his 100th cap with a dramatic equaliser to seal a 1-1 draw with Germany in Tuesday’s Euro 2016 qualifier.

Germany were heading for a 1-0 win in Gelsenkirchen after Toni Kroos’ second-half goal before O’Shea stabbed his shot home in the 94th-minute to celebrate his landmark in style.

After their 33-match unbeaten run in qualifiers was ended by Saturday’s 2-0 shock defeat to Poland in Warsaw, Germany’s qualifier woes continued as Ireland claimed a deserved point.

Despite the world champions dominating possession with 19 goal attempts to Ireland’s paltry two, O’Neill’s side were rewarded for their battling spirit with a ‘precious’ point to stay second in Group D.

“We just didn’t give up and kept going. I never felt we were actually out of the game, which is great credit to the players,” said Ireland manager O’Neill.

“It’s a fantastic effort from the players, they were missing a few players, but so were we.

“Spirit alone will never be enough, but there is a great never-say-die attitude among the players, this keeps the confidence going.

“Scotland had a great draw (2-2 with Poland on Tuesday), but this is a marvellous result for us.

“I still think Germany are the strongest team in the group.

“They could easily have beaten Poland and will be disappointed to have given away an equaliser, but for us it is a precious point.”

Sunderland’s O’Shea was delighted with his fairy-tale finish, which leaves Ireland with two wins and a draw from their opening three games.

“Germany had far more chances. In the last ten minutes, we had to hope to get something on the counter,” said the centre-back after stabbing his 94th-minute shot past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

“At the end, the best goalkeeper in the world couldn’t keep it out. It was a great moment.

“We have a fantastic spirit, we didn’t want to come off having lost with people thinking we just did ok.”

The result keeps Germany fourth in the Group D table, but level on four points with third-placed Scotland while the Irish are level on seven points with leaders Poland, but second on goal difference.

“We’re all disappointed. I think that was Ireland’s only chance of the game and they scored from it,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew.

“In the last few minutes, we were simply naive.

“It was a difficult game, Ireland packed their entire team behind the ball and we should have had some patience.”

Real Madrid’s Kroos said the world champions threw the win away after his 70th-minute goal.

“It’s obviously incredibly disappointing, that was unnecessary,” said Kroos.

“We played well for long stretches, but at the end we didn’t keep calm.

“This is incomprehensible to me, we’ve lost our way in the final five minutes and we were punished accordingly.”

– SUPER SPORT