Chris Smalling stretches to steer home Manchester United’s winner against  VfL Wolfsburg at Old Trafford. Photo: Lee Smith/Reuters I

GROUP B: MANCHESTER UNITED 2 (Mata 34pen, Smalling 53) VFL WOLFSBURG 1 (Caligiuri 4) For a while, Manchester United briefly threatened to add(...)

Wolfsburg’s Maximilian Arnold, Dante and Josuha Guilavogui  react after their side lost 5-1 to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, with Robert Lewandowski scoring five goals in nine minutes. Photograph: Michael Dalder/Reuters

One of the phrases we reach for increasingly often is football’s “bubble”. This is not in the innocent sense of West Ham and Upton Park; rather, it(...)

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after completing his hat-trick in Real Madrid’s Champions League game against  Shakhtar Donetsk at the Santiago Bernabeu. Photograph: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

Champions League round-up: Cristiano Ronaldo moved three goals clear of Lionel Messi as the Champions League top scorer when he netted a hat-trick for(...)

The match fixtures are shown on a panel following the draw of the round of 16 soccer matches of the UEFA Champions League 2014/15 in Nyon, Switzerland, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. The final is scheduled for June 6 at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. (AP Photo/Keystone,Jean-Christophe Bott)

This year’s draw for the knockout stage has thrown up some tantalising games, including Manchester City’s clash with Barcelona and a tough encounter (...)

German  coach Joachim Löw  and assistant coach Thomas Schneider during  team training session in Berlin ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifier against Gibraltar  in Nuremberg on Friday. Photograph:  Lukas Schulze/EPA

World champions Germany will field their strongest team against Group D minnows Gibraltar in Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Nuremberg, looking for (...)

 Republic of Ireland’s John O’Shea celebrates scoring the equaliser  against Germany in injury time. Photograph: Donall Farmer / Inpho

Football is not immune to fairytales but even the Brothers Grimm might have raised eyebrows at the manner in which Ireland concocted one of those fab(...)

German  coach Joachim Löw during the Euro 2016 Group D qualifier against Ireland in Gelsenkirchen. Photograph: Ina Fassbender / Reuters
German player ratings

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich) 6/10 Until the last kick, only had one moment where his heart rate would have crept up at all – stretching time to(...)

John O’Shea (centre) of Ireland celebrates after scoring  the late equaliser against world champions Germany in   at Arena Auf Schalke in Gelsenkirchen. Photograph: Fredrik Von Erichsen / EPA

Germany 1 Republic of Ireland 1It seemed too much to ask for that Ireland might come to Germany’s old mining capital and somehow dig out a result but (...)

  André Schürrle out of tonight’s game against Ireland. Photograph: Joern Pollex/Getty Images

Chelsea midfielder André Schürrle has been ruled out of this evening’s qualifying game in Gelsenkirchen after coming down with a bout of flu. The 23 (...)

Bastian Schweinsteiger is sorely missed from the German engine room while Jonathan Walters could have a key role to play for Ireland tonight. Photograph:  Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images.

Ah, Poland. Nobody could begrudge them Saturday’s victory in Warsaw – you owed them, we understand – but it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the(...)