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The Republic of Ireland and Germany maintained their unbeaten starts to the new Nations League campaign with contrasting results in Poland and Germany.


Jun-14 22:32 first published at 22:32 PM

The Republic of Ireland earned a creditable draw in their Nations League match against Ukraine thanks to Nathan Collins’ spectacular solo goal.

The 21-year-old Burnley centre-half weaved his way through the home side’s mesmerised ranks in the 31st minute before firing past stranded goalkeeper Dmytro Riznyk with the outside of his right foot in front of a largely stunned crowd of 10,641 in the Polish city of Lodz.

Collins’s first senior international goal was ultimately only enough to claim a 1-1 draw against the Euro 2020 quarter-finalists, to whom they lost 1-0 at the Aviva Stadium last week, after Artem Dovbyk levelled to ensure his side will sit at the top of League B Group One when they return to action in September.

A largely inexperienced Ireland team – with the notable exception of James McClean, who won his 94th cap – performed admirably at the LKS Stadium, with Collins, Dara O’Shea, Josh Cullen and Jason Knight particularly impressive to provide manager Stephen Kenny with further vindication of his vision.

Andriy Yarmolenko got half a yard beyond McClean to cross low and give Dovbyk the easiest of tasks to square the game two minutes after the restart.

Germany trounced Italy 5-2 in Mönchengladbach, snapping a four-game losing streak and extending their unbeaten run under coach Hansi Flick.

Timo Werner scored twice in Germany’s greatest performance under Flick, after goals from Joshua Kimmich, Ilkay Gündogan, and Thomas Müller had put them in control. Wilfried Gnonto, a youngster, equalized in the 78th minute, and Alessandro Bastoni added a second in stoppage time for the visitors.

After scoring Germany’s fourth goal against Italy, Timo Werner (left) celebrates. DeFodi Images/Getty Images/DeFodi Images

This was Germany’s first Nations League victory in four games, and the first for Flick, who had gone undefeated in 13 games since taking over last year. Ten days ago, they drew with Italy. Germany now has a six-point lead.

Manuel Neuer, Germany’s captain, had promised pyrotechnics from the start, and both teams had chances to score in a tense opening. In the 10th minute, Germany took the lead as Kimmich surged into the box and knocked in a David Raum cutback.

On the stroke of half-time, Gündogan stabbed in a penalty to give them a two-goal cushion.

With the Italy head coach, Roberto Mancini, making two substitutions, Italy looked livelier after the break. Yet the Germans struck against the run of play with Thomas Müller rifling in following a clearance from the Italian defence.

Werner then got on the scoresheet, sliding in to connect with a Serge Gnabry assist in the 68th and then added another a minute later when Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma’s pass was intercepted.

Gnonto pulled one back with his first international goal, becoming the youngest scorer for Italy at the age of 18, and Bastoni added a second to deny the Germans a record winning margin over them.

In Warsaw, Michy Batshuayi’s diving header in the first half was enough for Belgium to secure a first victory in Poland with a 1-0 success in their Nations League A clash.

Batshuayi stooped to steer Youri Tielemans’s excellent cross into the net on 16 minutes to ensure Belgium scored for a 48th consecutive match, an incredible record dating back to a 1-0 loss to France at the 2018 World Cup.

Roberto Martínez’s side stay in contention for top spot in Group Four as they trail leaders Netherlands by three points with two rounds remaining. They will travel to Amsterdam in their final pool match in September.

The reverse fixture between these two finished 6-1 to Belgium last week, but this was a different kind of contest in Warsaw with both sides showing signs of fatigue after a long season.

The visitors’ lead was deserved, with Batshuayi scoring a 25th international goal in his 45th appearance after a bright start from the visitors. He had another shot deflected just wide just before half-time, while Eden Hazard flashed an effort narrowly off target early in the second period as Belgium dominated the play.

A poor touch from Robert Lewandowski saw him spurn a good chance at the other end, but the best of the opportunities for the home side fell to Kamil Glik when he headed inches wide of the post from a corner.

Edin Dzeko scored twice as Group B3 leaders Bosnia came from 2-1 down to beat Finland 3-2 in Zenica while Stefan Mugosa hit a hat-trick to fire Montenegro to a 3-0 win in Romania.

Kaan Ayhan and Hakan Calhanoglu scored to ensure Turkey maintained their 100% record in Group C1 with a 2-0 win against Lithuania, while Luxembourg and the Faroe Islands played out a 2-2 draw.

In Group D1, Vladislavs Gutkovskis scored both goals as Latvia beat Liechtenstein 2-0, and Moldova edged out Andorra 2-1.

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