Scotland came from behind to draw 1-1 with Ireland in their Euro 2016 qualifier on Saturday and stay two points clear of their opponents in a likely battle for a third place playoff spot in Group D.
Jonathan Walters handed Ireland a deserved first half lead but Shaun Maloney's deflected shot off the back of John O'Shea early in the second half kept Scottish hopes of reaching a first major championship in almost 20 years very much alive.
Ireland dominated the first half hour but were let down by their accuracy in the final third, handing little opportunity the way of Daryl Murphy, starting alone up front ahead of Shane Long and Ireland's top scorer Robbie Keane. When a cross finally found Murphy, the 32-year-old Ipswich Town striker forced David Marshall into an awkward save and from the resulting corner, another parried Murphy header fell at the feet of Walters to open the scoring on 38 minutes.
Murphy, top scorer in England's second tier this season, could have made it two a minute from halftime but he failed to connect with another wickedly whipped in Robbie Brady corner.
All that hard work was nullified a minute into the second half when the hosts fell asleep and Maloney, whose strike at Celtic Park handed Ireland their only defeat of the campaign so far, was given too much space in the run up to O'Shea's own goal.
Murphy could have put Ireland back in front within a minute after being put through by Wes Hoolahan, but he was denied by Marshall who had little to do for the rest of the game as Ireland struggled to regain the initiative.
Robert Lewandowski of Poland reacts after scoring a goal during the Euro 2016 Group D qualifying football match Poland vs Georgia in Warsaw, Poland on June 13, 2015. (AFP Photo)
Lewandowski scores hat-trick in Poland win
Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick in the space of four minutes late in the game as Poland beat Georgia 4-0 in Euro 2016 qualifying on Saturday.
Poland, who lead qualifying Group D, were in front in Warsaw thanks to a 62nd-minute strike by Arkadiusz Milik before captain Lewandowski doubled their lead in the 89th minute. He then added another in the 92nd minute and completed a remarkable treble in the third minute of stoppage time to put the seal on a handsome win.
It is believed to be the second fastest hat-trick in the history of European Championship qualifying, bettered only by Arif Erdem, who scored three in three minutes for Turkey against Northern Ireland in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2000.
Lewandowski has now scored seven times in the campaign -- the 26-year-old scored four times in the second half in a 7-0 win over Gibraltar last September. He now has 26 international goals.
Poland are now top of Group D with 14 points from six games, three points clear of Scotland, five clear of Ireland, and one ahead of world champions Germany.
Germany's Andre Schuerrle, Ilkay Gundogan and Max Kruse, from left, exercise during a training session prior to the friendly soccer match between Germany and USA in Cologne, Germany, on June 9, 2015. USA won 2-1. (AP Photo)
Schuerrle scores treble
Germany laboured in the first half against the part-timers from Gibraltar, with the match played in Portugal because Gibraltar does not have a suitable stadium.
Bastian Schweinsteiger fluffed a penalty in the 10th, shooting weakly as Gibraltar goalkeeper Jordan Perez dived to his left to save the shot. Perez produced fine saves but Gibraltar also had several chances to score from counterattacks.
Andre Schuerrle put Germany on the scoreboard in the 28th, after Gibraltar defender Ryan Casciaro gave away the ball.
After the break, Germany stepped up the pace and piled on the pressure to score four more inside the first 20 minutes. Substitute Max Kruse added two goals to Schuerrle's three, and Ilkay Gundogan and Karim Bellarabi also scored for Germany. It was the fourth highest win for Germany in European qualifying.
Greece's Kostas Mitroglou (R) vies with Faroe Island's Brandur Olsen (L) during the Uefa Euro 2016 group F qualifying football match between Faroe Island and Greece, in Torshavn, Faroe Islands on June 13, 2015. (AFP Photo)
Faroe Islands beat Greece again
The Faroe Islands proved the first time wasn't a fluke when it beat Greece again 2-1 in European Championship qualifying on Saturday, moving to fourth place in Group F.
Brandur Olsen secured the Faroes' victory in the second half, with Hallur Hansson scoring before the break. Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored too late for Greece.
The Faroes also won 1-0 in Greece in November for its first competitive away win since 2001, and it cost the job of Greece coach Claudio Ranieri.
In Group I, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as a 10-man Portuguese side rallied to a 3-2 away win over Armenia, thus maintaining their two-point lead over second-placed Denmark, which beat Serbia 2-0 at home with goals from Yussuf Poulsen and substitute Jakob Poulsen.
In Group F, Hungary beat Finland 1-0, with an 82nd-minute goal from Zoltan Stieber, to go two points behind second-place Northern Ireland, which was held to 0-0 by group leader Romania. Romania has a one-point lead over Northern Ireland.
(With inputs from AFP, AP, and Reuters)