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Euro 2016 qualifiers: Ireland seek automatic spot with Poland win

| 11.10.2015

Martin O’Neill guides his jubilant Republic of Ireland side out in Warsaw to face Poland in their final Euro 2016 Group D encounter knowing they could secure an automatic qualifying spot for France, following a famous 1-0 win over world champions Germany in Dublin.

The Boys in Green will qualify for the finals next summer with either victory over the Poles or a 2-2 result or higher-scoring draw, but still hold a chance of progressing automatically as the best third-placed team. Defeat would mean a play-off spot at worst, though a 0-0 and 1-1 draw would be enough if Germany somehow lose to group strugglers Georgia in their final fixture.

Ireland are 7/2 with Coral to secure what would be only their second ever win over Poland from five previous meetings since 2004, but they will have to contain the irresistible Robert Lewandowski, who has incredibly netted 14 goals in his last five outings for club and country.

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group D - Republic of Ireland v Germany - Aviva Stadium

The seemingly unstoppable Bayern Munich marksman was actually contained by a solid Irish rear guard in the previous clash last year though, which were even more effective recently against Germany, but the prolific Pole is 7/2 to open proceedings and 4/1 to dispatch a double or more.

Having previously been thankful for Lewandowski’s decisive brace over Celtic rivals Scotland, Ireland will now have to deal with the in-form finisher themselves but, with the strongest defence in Group D, are 11/2 to win to nil for a fourth consecutive qualifier.

Poland are the odds-on 4/5 favourites to emerge from home soil with three points, but O’Neill’s men have proved they are not to be taken lightly by anyone, and a draw between these nations is 5/2, though the driven Irish boss is aiming for much more.

Britain Scotland Poland Euro Soccer

“To beat the world champions is a sensational effort. We have reached the play-offs and we can go for it on Sunday now,” claimed the Derry-born boss.

Obviously ecstatic with his side’s performance against Germany, inflicting last summer’s World Cup winners with their first competitive defeat in a year, O’Neill called for Ireland to remain grounded and get the job done in Warsaw.

“Unfortunately we have still a long way to go yet, but it was great to beat the Germans, world champions, here today. Considering the things we had to overcome, I thought it was a fantastic effort by the players. They deserve enormous credit,” continued the Irish boss.

“It was a fantastic effort and Shane [Long] comes on and just scores a wonder-goal for us and gave us something to hang on to.

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group D - Republic of Ireland v Germany - Aviva Stadium

“I’m ecstatic that we have won the game. You would think that beating the Germans and not being beaten by them at all, the world champions, you would think that would be at least deserving of winning the tournament, but it’s not the case – we haven’t even qualified.”

Southampton striker Long was the hero in Dublin, possibly gaining an unwanted title of super sub in the process of firing his nation to a famous win, but the Premier League attacker is 8/1 to bag the final goal in his latest outing again, having also grabbed a 90th-minute equaliser in this fixture on home soil last year.

Rob Elliot has been drafted into the Irish set-up following an injury to Shay Given during the Germany triumph, while Everton full back Seamus Coleman and Stoke City’s Marc Wilson both return to O’Neill’s squad after recovering from knocks.

After losing just once from their nine qualifying outings in Group D, also boasting the best defensive record, Ireland will look to finish on a high by securing an automatic place for the France finals, though face a tough task with Bundesliga sharpshooter Lewandowski currently at his clinical best for Poland.

Betting tip: Shane Long scores last @ 8/1



Lee Gormley

Lee joined the Coral team in 2014 after studying at Leeds Trinity University, having moved across the water from Ireland, and has plenty of industry experience from his time with various news outlets in both England and Northern Ireland. After graduating with a BA Honours degree in Sports Journalism, he has since become an important member of the talented sports desk, passionately covering boxing, football and snooker, among many other sports. Lee is also a massive Manchester United and Republic of Ireland fan, but curbs any bias during his work, and outside of his job can be found regularly taking part in sport himself, such as boxing, GAA and football.