Germany return with a win

    Thomas Mueller scored in Germany's 2-1 victory over Scotland.

    Story highlights

    • Germany beat Scotland 2-1 in Euro qualification
    • First competitive match since their World Cup win
    • Albania shock Portugal 1-0
    • Poland thrash new boys Gibraltar 7-0
    A new look Germany got their European Championship qualification campaign off to a winning start by beating Scotland 2-1 in Dortmund.
    Thomas Mueller gave Germany the lead in a tightly fought game that saw the Scots equalize in the second half thanks to a superbly taken goal by Ikechi Anya.
    But the irrepressible Mueller scored again four minutes later and Germany held out before Scotland were reduced to ten men late on.
    New look Germany
    It is barely six weeks since Germany won the 2014 World Cup at the Maracana in Rio, but already thoughts have turned to the European Championship finals in France in two years time.
    Yet Germany was missing many of the players that had featured in that famous World Cup campaign, not least Miroslav Klose, Philipp Lahm and Per Mertesacker who have all retired from international football.
    A recent 4-2 thrashing by fellow finalists Argentina in a friendly last week -- Germany were 4-0 down at one point -- had raised fears that the transition to a new look team might be a painful one.
    Germany started strongly in the first half and took a deserved lead in the 18th minute when Mueller looped in a header.
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    A flourish of goals didn't follow. Instead Scotland, rejuvenated and unbeaten in six competitive games under coach Gordon Strachan, worked themselves back into the game and were unlucky not to equalize when Everton striker Steven Naismith hit the post.
    But the equalizer did come eventually after Anya raced through on the left and calmly slotted the ball past Manuel Neuer. Parity didn't last long as Mueller scored the decisive goal and any chance of a comeback was snuffed out after a late Mulgrew red card reduced the Scots to ten men.
    Chance for the underdogs
    Elsewhere in Europe it was a chance for the underdogs to shine.
    UEFA, European football's governing body, has changed the qualification format for the 2016 competition. It has been expanded to 24 teams, meaning that the top two in each group qualify automatically to the finals whilst third place might earn a play off spot.
    There has been much criticism of the move in Europe's established footballing powers for diluting the standard of the competition, but the change also opens the door to smaller teams who might not otherwise qualify.
    Albania grabbed their chance with both hands. The tiny Balkan state beat a Ronaldo-less Portugal 1-0. Northern Ireland came back from a goal down to beat Hungary 2-1 after scoring twice in the last 10 minutes whilst the Faeroe islands looked on course for a shock win against Finland before the Finns scored three second half goals.
    Gibraltar hammered
    There was no fairytale ending for Gibraltar. The tiny British overseas territory, UEFA's smallest and newest member, was playing its first competitive match since being admitted last year.
    Gibraltar's membership of UEFA had become a political hot potato. The ownership of the territory is disputed by Spain, who claim Gibraltar is Spanish territory and have opposed any attempts to admit them in to UEFA.
    But the Gibraltar Football Association successfully took their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, allowing the national team to play in qualification for the first time in their history.
    Although their match against Poland was supposed to be a home game, Gibraltar's Victoria Stadium does not meet UEFA's standards and the match was moved to Portugal.
    After an impressive first half, Poland went into overdrive in the second. Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski scored four times as Poland ran out 7-0 winners.
    Monday sees current European champions Spain play Macedonia, England play Switzerland and Austria play Sweden.