BERLIN: Germany assumed top spot in its European Championship qualifying group at Poland’s expense, while Albania and Denmark could not take advantage of Portugal’s competitive night off on Friday.
Group I leader Portugal hosted France for a friendly in Lisbon, knowing it could be overtaken depending on the result in Copenhagen.
However, the Danes and Albanians could only manage a scoreless draw, leaving both sides level on 11 points, one behind Portugal, which visits Albania for a qualifier on Monday.
”They got lucky,” Portugal forward Nani said after his side’s 1-0 loss to France. ”We have to keep the same attitude and play good football in Albania because their result is good for us.”
France substitute Mathieu Valbuena’s late free kick was enough for the French, who qualify automatically as hosts of Euro 2016.
In Group D, Germany’s World Cup hero Mario Goetze scored twice to help his side to a 3-1 win over previously unbeaten Poland in Frankfurt.
”We’re happy to have won against the strongest opponents in the group,” said Thomas Mueller, who opened the scoring for Germany.
Germany and Poland remain the favorites for the two automatic qualifying places from the group, leaving Ireland and Scotland to scrap it out for third place.
The best third-placed team qualifies directly, while the other eight third-place finishers can qualify through playoffs.
Ireland took advantage of Scotland’s 1-0 loss in Georgia by beating Gibraltar 4-0 in Portugal to move third, two points behind Poland. Germany leads with 16 points two ahead of Poland with three rounds of games remaining.