The sporting decade that was: Long makes short work of world champions
Shane Long sends the Aviva in raptures and the Germans home to think again
Ireland’s Shane Long fizzes his shot past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
October 8th, 2015: Republic of Ireland 1 Germany - Euro 2016 qualifier, Aviva Stadium
You know the old one about not writing the Germans off? Well, you might well have struggled to back them ahead of their game at the Aviva in October 2015 which they came into as world champions and on a bit of a qualification roll.
Ireland had upset them a little bit by scoring a late equaliser a few months earlier in Gelsenkirchen and Joachim Löw’s side had taken the disappointment out on the group’s four other teams; beating them all, Gibraltar twice, 19 goals to three in total, before rocking up in Dublin looking for a bit of revenge.
After the opening 20 minutes it was clear that the Germans weren’t quite at their ruthless best, but Ireland still had to work incredibly hard to stay in the game. The defence played well and the intervention by Richard Keogh that prevented a Matthias Ginter ball reaching Mario Götze, who was already preparing to shoot, was arguably as important as the goal that won it for the hosts. Well, almost.
The goal came in the 70th minute, moments after Jon Walters had gone down seeking a penalty for what he reckoned had been a nudge by Mats Hummels. Within seconds, the ball was at the other end of the pitch, at the feet of substitute goalkeeper, Darren Randolph, on for Shay Given and his competitive debut.
As he was about to be closed down, Randolph took a touch and a step to his right before launching a long pass in the direction of Shane Long who saw the opportunity coming before any of the three Germans around him seemed to sense the danger.
The striker checked his run ever so slightly so as to let the ball drop over his right shoulder and into his path then pushed it on almost perfectly with his first touch. His movement towards the right side of the German area rather than direct at goal forced Jonas Hector to slow and change direction for fear of clattering into him and getting sent off. In the end, he and Hummels are reduced to onlookers and Jéröme Boateng is not close enough even to attempt a block as Long let fly with a shot that, though not perfectly placed, was directed well enough given the power it possessed to prevent Manuel Neuer saving.
The world champions were about to be beaten. The place, as they say, went wild.