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Long on Ireland's 'amazing' victory over Germany

Published: Friday 9 October 2015, 8.36CET
Shane Long hailed a perfectly-executed game plan as the Republic of Ireland stunned world champions Germany – and now they have sights set on an unlikely top spot.
by Simon Hart
from Dublin Arena
Long on Ireland's 'amazing' victory over Germany
Shane Long (C) celebrates in Dublin ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Friday 9 October 2015, 8.36CET

Long on Ireland's 'amazing' victory over Germany

Shane Long hailed a perfectly-executed game plan as the Republic of Ireland stunned world champions Germany – and now they have sights set on an unlikely top spot.

It was one of the most famous nights in recent Irish soccer history and Shane Long summed it all up in one word – "amazing".

It certainly was for Long, the man who stepped off the Republic of Ireland bench midway through the second half and five minutes later smacked in the goal that downed Germany and nearly lifted the roof off the Dublin Arena.

His emphatic strike was enough to secure a wholly unexpected 1-0 victory over the world champions and guarantee Martin O'Neill's Irish side at least third place and a spot in the UEFA EURO 2016 play-offs. They are level on points with second-placed Poland, their opponents in their final Group D fixture in Warsaw on Sunday.

It was a goal which stirred memories of the direct approach of the Jack Charlton era when Ireland first qualified for a UEFA European Championship in 1988 – a long kick from goalkeeper Darren Randolph which Long reached ahead of a chasing pack of defenders before lashing a shot high past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Long: The boys never stopped running

"It was amazing," a grinning Long told "The gaffer sent me on with 30 minutes to go and you could see that Germany were getting frustrated and there was a bit of space in behind them when we broke. That is exactly what I want when I come on the pitch and I got the touch out in front of me and I knew I had to hit it hard to get it past Neuer.

"You can tell by the reaction in the stadium how much it meant to the team and to the whole country. To be a part of tonight was amazing and to get the winning goal was extra special."

It was the Southampton forward's 14th goal for his country – and surely his most important. "There are a few up there – the one against England at Wembley will always be in my memory – but tonight to get the three points and put ourselves in with a chance of going on to win the group is an amazing feeling."

©Getty Images

Long makes it 1-0 in Dublin

Long praised the courage and commitment of his team-mates, whose stubborn defending featured a series of brilliant last-ditch blocks and interceptions from the likes of John O'Shea, Stephen Ward and Richard Keogh. They rode their luck at times, but it was hard to deny they had earned it. "We knew we'd have to frustrate Germany," said Long, 28.

"They are the world champions and that was evident tonight – they pass the ball so freely and we had to sit in and try and upset them. The longer that went on, the more space that grew in behind them. It was nice to come on to that; the lads had done 60 minutes of hard work for me to come on and I managed to get the goal."

Highlights: Ireland 1-1 Poland

Long's previous goal in Dublin was the stoppage-time equaliser against Poland in March – another strike after coming off the bench and one which grows in significance now that Ireland have joined the Polish on 18 points. O'Neill's men will fly to Warsaw knowing a high-scoring draw (2-2 or more) or victory guarantees automatic qualification.

"It is nice to have it back in our own hands," added Long, whose team have now taken four points against the group leaders. "It took a good game against Georgia [last month's 1-0 win] to get us back into the group [and] we managed to beat the world champions tonight, so it is nice to go to Poland with everything to play for.

"The worst-case scenario is we finish third. But we're in for that top spot. There is no reason why we can't go there and win the game. People are saying all we need is a draw but that won't come into our minds at all. We know we are good enough to go there and get the win."

Last updated: 06/06/16 13.15CET