Scotland and Ireland face 'epic' Euro 2016 clash after heroics

Ireland and Scotland hold Germany and Poland away from home to set up Group D showdown

John O'Shea
(Image credit: Dennis Grombkowski / Getty)

Scotland almost produced a famous victory in Poland, while the Republic of Ireland conjured a dramatic point against the World Champions Germany in Group D as both sides maintained their push to qualify for Euro 2016.

It was a proud night for teams from the British Isles as Northern Ireland managed a win over 2004 tournament winners Greece to maintain their 100 per cent start to the qualification campaign in Group F.

As it stands Northern Ireland, England and Wales top their groups, Ireland lie second in theirs while Scotland are level on points with Germany.

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Group D, featuring Scotland and Ireland, is shaping up to be the most intriguing in Europe after John O'Shea, winning his 100th cap, struck an equaliser for the Republic in the fourth minute of injury time against a Germany side that has managed one win and three goals in its first three qualifying matches, and Scotland held Poland in Warsaw.

"Whether Germany have entered a spiral of decline, are in a period of transition or are simply feeling the effects of their triumph at the World Cup, they appear to have forgotten their nature," says The Times. After "wading" through the match they conceded a goal at the death to leave Ireland jubilant – and three points above them in the table.

"If Germany are presently unrecognisable, the Irish have rediscovered their essence under the leadership of Martin O'Neill," adds the paper.

With Germany so out of sorts, it makes the group "close and fascinating".

The world champions might be off the pace, but with games against Gibraltar and Georgia looming they will get their mojo back and will surely top the group this time next year. However, the race for second looks increasingly tight. Ireland look well-placed with seven points from nine.

They are level on points with Poland, who produced a massive shock last week by beating Germany. But having felled the World Champions the Poles could only draw with Scotland last night.

It was a stirring performance from the Scots, who came from behind to take the lead in Warsaw, only to be pegged back to 2-2. It will also give Gordon Strachan's team belief that they have the capability to pip both Poland and Ireland to second place in the group.

The match was "one of the most thrilling in which Scotland have been involved in recent times", says The Guardian. "[But] participation in the most exciting and keenly contested qualifying section will count for nothing in Scotland if a place at Euro 2016 is not secured by the end of it. The Scottish absence from major finals has gone on far too long for such plaudits to be acceptable."

"Next month's visit of the Republic of Ireland to Celtic Park suddenly looks epic."

Scotland must prepare for a "rollercoaster ride that will test the nation’s nerve all the way until the last kick of the ball", says the Daily Record.

And the BBC agrees that next month's match will be critical. "It's too early in the campaign to say exactly what Scotland have to do to have a realistic chance of automatic qualification, but given the start Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland have made, it's reasonable to suggest that a win over them at Celtic Park in November is vital."

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