Germany qualifies for Euro 2008

Germany became the first team to qualify for the European Championship after a 0-0 draw against Ireland on Saturday.

updated: October 15, 2007 07:47 IST
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Germany became the first team to qualify for the European Championship after a 0-0 draw against Ireland on Saturday.

German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, returning from a monthlong injury break, repeatedly denied Ireland in the second half. The German defense cleared two Irish corners in the final seconds of injury time.

"We were just unlucky we didn't score that goal," Irish coach Steve Staunton said.

Germany, which was playing without injured stars Miroslav Klose and Michael Ballack, rarely threatened the Irish goal but only needed the lone point to qualify.

"The Irish were fighting for their lives at times. They are a very tough team to beat on their home soil. But we soaked up everything they threw at us," said Lehmann, who was booked and will miss Germany's next match at home against the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

The draw keeps Germany at the top of Group D with 23 points and a game in hand, while the idle Czechs remain second with 20.

Ireland is third with 15 points and must win its remaining two matches at home against Cyprus and away to Wales to have only a slim chance of qualifying.

Irish midfielder Andy Reid said the players were being realistic.

"It's never over 'til it's over, but you have to be realistic about things. It's not going to happen, is it?" Reid said. "All you can do is be proud when you put on the green shirt."

Ireland's best scoring chances came at the start of the second half. Lee Carsley's lofting 48th-minute cross into the box nearly sailed into the top left corner of the goal, but Lehmann scrambled backward, leaped and slapped the ball over the crossbar.

Two minutes later, Robbie Keane found himself alone in the box with Lehmann, but the goalkeeper easily caught his weak chip shot.

Both teams were playing without several usual starters because of injuries and suspensions, and Ireland lost defender John O'Shea to a leg injury shortly before kickoff.

Germany lost Bastian Schweinsteiger in the 12th minute when he bashed heads with Kevin Kilbane as both contested a header. Schweinsteiger had a bloodied forehead and was replaced by Simon Rolfes. Kilbane had his left brow stitched up on the sideline.

Christoph Metzelder came closest to scoring in the first half off a 37th-minute corner kick, but his close-range header was headed off the line by Irish defender Steve Finnan.

Lehmann received a yellow card for time-wasting in the 52nd minute. He ran far out of his box to challenge winger Andy Keogh and kicked the ball off the field. Lehmann then picked it up to delay an Irish throw-in.