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Sunday 4 December 2016

'Let's go and win in Warsaw' says hero Shane Long

Shane Long celebrates after scoring the first goal for Republic of Ireland
Shane Long celebrates after scoring the first goal for Republic of Ireland
Darren Randolph, Republic of Ireland celebrate his side's victory at the final whistle

Shane Long has borne frustration for much of his Ireland career, but the Southampton striker bore a smile a mile wide last night after scoring the biggest goal of his time with Ireland and securing an very unexpected win over world champions Germany.

Long came off the bench a hungry man and he fed that hunger by latching on to a long goal kick from sub keeper Darren Randolph to beat Manuel Neuer, a goal which shocked a German side who had planned to get from Dublin the sole point they needed to secure a place at France 2016.

Now it all moves on to Sunday, Ireland secure of a playoff place at least but a win over the Poles in Warsaw will send Ireland to France automatically.

Wes Hoolahan was magnificent in midfield for Ireland but Long was the hero with that goal.

"It's been amazing to beat the world champions at home. It's nice to have it back in our hands again will going ahead to Poland with a great advantage," said Long ahead of Sunday's game, where Glenn Whelan, James McClean, Seamus Coleman and Marc Wilson should all return to action for Ireland, though Shay Given will miss the trip after jarring his knee last night.

"It's definitely up there with the highlights of my career. The atmosphere, the place is going mad. To even be a part of last night was amazing but to get the winning goal was phenomenal.

"The gaffer sent me on. As you could see it was big effort," added Long, a second half sub for Daryl Murphy.

"We tried to frustrate them as there was a few tired legs and the Gaffer said try and put them under pressure. It was nice to have finished it off," said Long, paying tribute to Randolph's assist after he came on for the injured Given.

"You know it's big boots to fill when Shay goes off. But Darren Randolph (pictured)is well able to do it. He made some great saves and was very confident."

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