World Champions Germany survived potential embarrassment as they scrapped through a spirited Georgia 2-1 to book their ticket to the 2016 Euro championships. The Germans started the match needing just a solitary point to qualify for next summer’s tournament in France but were made to work hard for it by an inspired Georgian side.
Meanwhile, Poland sealed an automatic qualification berth at the Euro 2016 at the expense of the Republic of Ireland 2-1. Both started the match in contention for automatic qualification with the Republic of Ireland needing nothing less than a victory or a 2-2 draw or higher against the Poles owing to the superior goal difference of the latter. Portugal saw off Serbia 2-1 in an ill-tempered match which saw two Serbian players receive red cards. Portugal finished on top of their group with 21 points.
Sunday night saw Groups D, F and I in action finishing off their last round of Euro qualifying matches. Germany, Northern Ireland and Portugal ended up as leaders of their respective groups.
This year’s surprise packages Albania qualified for a major tournament for the first time in their history as their 3-0 victory in Armenia secured their place at Euro 2016. The win meant Albania leapfrogged Denmark into second place in Group I.
Romania also booked their ticket to Euro 2016 thanks to a 3-0 win against Faroe Islands. A slip-up for Romania could have seen Hungary take second place in Group F, but they managed to pick up the three points with a comfortable victory.
Other results elsewhere saw the already qualified Northern Ireland held by Finland 1-1 and Scotland annihilate Gibralter 6-0. Greece emerged victorious over Hungary 4-3 in a thrilling home encounter.
Germany booked their place at Euro 2016 with an unconvincing win over Georgia. Joachim Low's side struggled before they were awarded a second-half penalty, which Thomas Muller converted. Georgia captain Jaba Kankava levelled with a superb left-foot volley from outside the box. Substitute Max Kruse had the final word, getting on the end of Mesut Ozil's precise through-ball to coolly slot home the winner. Germany also had goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to thank after he made a superb save to tip over a Tornike Okriashvili effort at 1-1.
Poland marched into the Euro 2016 with Grzegorz Krychowiak having given the home side an early lead with a fine strike but only for Jon Walters to quickly equalise with a controversially awarded penalty. In-form striker Robert Lewandowski powerfully headed in what proved to be the deciding goal late in the first half. Republic of Ireland skipper John O'Shea was sent off late on for a second bookable offence.
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Northern Ireland conceded a late equaliser away to Finland but the point means they finish top of their Euro 2016 qualifying group. Michael O'Neill's men had looked like ending a triumphant campaign with a win having led for most of the match through a Craig Cathcart header. Defender Cathcart, 26, glanced in his first NI goal in the 31st minute after Niall McGinn had clipped in a cross. Central defender Paulus Arajuuri got Finland's equaliser in the 87th minute.
Romania returned to the Euro with an away win at Faroe Islands. At Torshavn, Faroe Islands, Bulescu opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a powerful shot just inside the area after a cross from the left by Razvan Rat. Budescu's second came from what seemed to be intended as a cross in first-half stoppage time that looped over goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen and into the net. In the 83rd, Alexandru Maxim and Bogdan Stanku exchanged quick passes and Maxim beat Nielsen to cap the scoring.
Portugal finished as table toppers with a win over an undisciplined Serbia. Manchester City's Aleksandar Kolarov was dismissed for two yellow cards, before Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic saw red for violent conduct. Goals from former Manchester United winger Nani and Joao Moutinho, on either side of the brilliant Zoran Tosic's strike, gave Group I winners Portugal the victory. Real Madrid star forward Cristiano Ronaldo was rested for the match.
Albania qualify for the Euro 2016 as runners up from the group. The jubilant Albanians opened the he scoring when a Kamo Hovhannisyan own goal set them on their way, with Ledian Memushaj adding a second from a free-kick and Armando Sadiku tapping home a third. Albania's win means Denmark finish third in the group, and will face a play-off to qualify for France next summer.