City’s Irish stars are smiling after dramatic European night
- Credit: PA
Norwich City pair Wes Hoolahan and Robbie Brady helped the Republic of Ireland to a memorable win over world champions Germany that kept their dreams of playing in next year's European Championship finals very much alive.
But there was despair for colleagues Russell Martin and Steven Whittaker as Scotland conceded a last-minute goal in a 2-2 draw against Poland at Hampden Park that ended their hopes of making it to France.
Hoolahan and Brady both played the full game as the Republic claimed a famous 1-0 victory in Dublin, with Shane Long coming off the bench to score the 70th minute winner which guaranteed Martin O'Neill's team third place in the group, and the play-off spot that goes with it.
In fact qualification is now in their own hands as a win in Poland in the final group match on Sunday would lift them up to second position, and an automatic place in the finals.
While Hoolahan and Brady can dream of France 2016 Martin and Whittaker must get their hands around the fact that they won't be involved. Both City stars played from start to finish as Scotland fought back from 1-0 down to lead 2-1 against the Poles, thanks to superb goals from Matt Ritchie and Steven Fletcher, only to concede in dying seconds when Robert Lewandowski prodded the ball home from close range.
That left them six points adrift of the Republic of Ireland and rendered their trip to minnows Gibraltar in their final qualifying game of academic interest only.
It was also a good night for City striker Kyle Lafferty, even though he missed Northern Ireland's game against Greece at Windsor Park through suspension. The hosts needed a win to confirm their qualification for France and got it as they cruised home 3-1 to reach their first major finals since the World Cup of 1986.