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Euro 2016 Qualifying Review: Germany survive scare, Albania reach first major tournament

Albania will compete in their first major tournament at Euro 2016 after beating Armenia 3-0 on Sunday and they will be joined by world champions Germany, despite struggling against Georgia.

A Kamo Hovhannisyan own-goal in the ninth minute was the perfect tonic to any early Albanian nerves in Armenia and Ledian Memushaj doubled their lead 14 minutes later.

Armando Sadiku put the result beyond doubt with 14 minutes remaining to spark scenes of elation, as Albania moved ahead of Denmark in Group I to secure the second automation qualification spot behind Portugal.

Portugal closed out their campaign with a 2-1 win in Serbia.

Serbia had both Aleksandar Kolarov and Nemanja Matic sent off towards the end.

Germany’s task proved somewhat trickier, as the 2014 World Cup winners struggled to overcome a dogged Georgia side 2-1 in Leipzig, needing Max Kruse’s late goal to secure top spot in Group D.

It took the hosts 50 minutes to break the deadlock, as Thomas Muller slotted in from the penalty spot, but Jaba Kankava, who fouled Mesut Ozil for the spot-kick, equalised just three minutes later, firing home a stunning volley.

Second-half substitute Kruse spared Germany’s blushes, though, producing a tidy first-time finish 11 minutes from the end to wrap up all three points and the team’s passage to France.

Poland endured a similarly tough contest in Group D’s other crucial fixture, as the Republic of Ireland proved a stern test after Grzegorz Krychowiak’s stunning 13th-minute long-range opener – Jonathan Walters hitting back from the penalty spot a few moments later.

A thumping Robert Lewandowski header just before the break ultimately proved decisive, though, and a second yellow for John O’Shea in second-half stoppage time seemingly ended the visitors’ already dwindling hopes, as Poland held on in Warsaw to secure qualification.

A Steven Fletcher hat-trick helped Scotland to a 6-0 thrashing of Gibraltar in Faro.

Romania also made sure of their place in France thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win over hosts Faroe Islands, Constantin Budescu netting a double and Alexandru Maxim adding a late third to finish second in Group F behind Northern Ireland, who drew 1-1 in Finland.

Greece claimed their first win of the qualifying phase in the shape of a thrilling 4-3 victory over Hungary, who finished third in the group despite the result.

Sun 11 Oct, 2015
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