John O'Shea marked his 100th cap with a last-minute equaliser to seal Ireland's dramatic 1-1 draw with Germany on Tuesday as the world champion's Euro 2016 qualifying woes continued. Germany were heading to a 1-0 win in Gelsenkirchen after a Toni Kroos' goal before O'Shea stabbed his shot home with the game's final kick to celebrate his landmark in style.
Ireland's defender John O'Shea (R) celebrates after scoring against Germany. Pic/ AFP
"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 beating 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." After their 33-match unbeaten run in qualifiers was ended by Saturday's 2-0 shock defeat to Poland in Warsaw, Germany's finishing again deserted them as Ireland claimed a deserved point.
"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."
The result keeps Germany fourth in the Group D table, but level on four points with Scotland while the Irish are level on seven points with leaders Poland, but second on goal difference. Germany host minnows and bottom side Gibraltar in Nuremberg next month while Ireland had a confidence boost ahead of their clash with Scotland in Glasgow.
But three months after winning the World Cup, Germany again produced a below-par performance which has not been helped by a host of injuries and retirements. Loew was forced into two changes after both Chelsea's Andre Schuerrle and Borussia Moenchengladbach's Christoph Kramer dropped out with flu.
Ireland were chasing their first win over Germany in 20 years, but Germany made a bright start with left-back Erik Durm hitting the crossbar after just five minutes from 32 metres. Just as they did in Warsaw, Germany enjoyed over 65 percent possession, but, just like Poland before them, the Irish defence repeatedly thwarted the German attack.
Ireland defended doggedly in the first 45 minutes, and Germany's Neuer had an easy half as he did not have to make a single save. Loew made a tactical switch at the break, taking off defensive midfielder Matthias Ginter and putting Lukas Podolski on the right wing. Julian Draxler pushed inside from the wing as a second attacking midfielder alongside Mario Goetze in a 4-1-4-1 formation. The Germans lack of finishing grew more acute.
Podolski went down hard in the area on 58 minutes amidst a posse of Irish defenders, but referee Damir Skomina judged the Arsenal star had fouled Ireland centre-back Marc Wilson in the process. With an hour gone, Ireland manager Martin O'Neill also went for a change of tactics. He switched striker Robbie Keane for Everton midfielder Darron Gibson with the Irish struggling to contain the waves of German attacks in the middle.
Goetze seemed to have been fouled in the area with 68 minutes gone, but Skomina waved play on as Loew threw on striker Max Kruse for Draxler on 70 minutes. Just seconds later Kroos' shot beat Forde from 25 metres and crashed in off the left post, which looked to have spared the world champions' blushes. But the Irish grew in confidence in the dying stages when Wes Hoolahan had his shot blocked before O'Shea had Irish eyes smiling.
An overhit cross was looped back into the area and O'Shea beat Mats Hummels to the dropping ball to nudge past Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.