Leeds United: Whites winger Dallas off to Euros but it is agony for Strachan

Steven Davis
Steven Davis
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Northern Ireland are heading to their first ever European Championship after captain Steven Davis and Josh Magennis kicked off celebrations 30 years in the making at Windsor Park.

The nation has not been seen at a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup but that will all change in France next summer after an unforgettable 3-1 victory in Belfast.

Davis – who was a year old when Billy Bingham’s boys went to Mexico – was the fitting figurehead, scoring in each half – the first thanks to a cross from Leeds United’s Stuart Dallas to send the 11,700 fans, including golfer Rory McIlroy, into raptures, while Magennis grabbed a first goal for his country on his first competitive start.

Shane Long came off the bench to blast the Republic of Ireland firmly into the race for Euro 2016 qualification with a famous victory over world champions Germany.

The Southampton striker beat Manuel Neuer with a thunderous right-foot shot 20 minutes from time to secure a 1-0 win which sends them to Poland on Sunday still in with a chance of automatic qualification from Group D.

Germany dominated for much of the game but a combination of poor finishing and heroic defending allowed the home side to see out time and guarantee themselves at least a play-off place.

But Scotland’s dream of reaching the 2016 European Championship finals in France were ended in a cruel and dramtic fashion by an injury-time leveller by red hot Poland striker Robert Lewandowski.

Gordon Strachan’s side knew defeat would leave them outside the play-off spot and there were less than three minutes played when in-form Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski gave the visitors the lead.

However, Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie thundered in a shot from outside the box seconds from the interval and Steven Fletcher put the home side ahead with a wonderful strike on the hour mark –but with seconds of the four added minutes remaining, Lewandowski knocked the ball in from inches out to make it 2-2 and leave former Leeds United star Strachan’s Scotland six points outside the play-off spot ahead of their final Group D fixture against Gibraltar in Portugal on Sunday.

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