Historic night for Poland blows Republic of Ireland’s group open

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While Robbie Keane took the opportunity to add yet more goals to his heavily stacked Republic of Ireland scoring record, Poland’s exploits in Warsaw helped to make Group D of the Euro 2016 qualifiers the most interesting by far.

In sealing a shock 2-0 victory over world champions Germany, Poland went to the top of the table on goal difference, ahead of Martin O’Neill’s side.

Ireland, who ensured their maximum points tally with a thumping 7-0 win over Gibraltar, are only denied the Group D bragging rights by one goal having also triumphed over Georgia in the opening set of fixtures.

Even Scotland, who took a slim 1-0 win over the Crusaders, will fancy their chances of sneaking into third place in the group as the Germans clearly struggle to shake their World Cup hangover.

Gordon Strachan’s side put the frighteners on Germany in the group’s opening fixture and were unlucky to lose 2-1. The improvement the side has made under the former Leeds United man has been marked and a spot in France in two years time is certainly not beyond them.

Germany’s struggles, however, may not last the course despite suffering their first defeat to Poland ever, a first away loss in a qualifier for 16 years and first loss in a competitive match for 19 games.

Their next assignment comes against Keane’s men in what will be a pivotal piece of action in Group D.

Travelling to the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen full of confidence after Keane’s hat-trick helped seal a mammoth win, Ireland will know that avoiding defeat to the wobbling world champs will be key in maintaining their grip on the automatic qualification places.

Germany remain the 2/7 favourites for Tuesday’s encounter, with O’Neill’s men 8/1 and the draw 19/5.

Scotland, meanwhile, travel to Poland as the 10/3 outsiders for victory.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.