Maloney’s late goal seals a crucial victory for Gordon Strachan’s men.
Scotland have put themselves right back in the conversation when it comes to qualification for Euro 2016, courtesy of a stunning late winner from Wigan Athletic winger Shaun Maloney against the Republic of Ireland at Celtic Park.
The atmosphere was electric for the first competitive meeting between these two celtic nations for 27 years, with the home fans clearly targeting Ireland winger and former Celtic star Aiden McGeady every single time he got the ball.
Despite a lack of quality, flowing football, both sides put their all in to what was a crucial game for both sides’ hopes of qualifying – and it was a tense, tight game that could’ve gone either way.
After a slow start from Gordon Strachan’s Scotland that saw Jonathan Walters and James McClean miss early half chances for the visitors, the hosts began to take control and should’ve taken the lead when Charlie Mulgrew headed a Maloney cross wide from six yards.
The second half continued in much the same manner and the pendulum continued to swing both ways in an end-to-end, exciting game – but one moment of quality from Maloney was enough to settle things. Ireland didn’t react to a quick corner and Scott Brown exchanged quick passes with Maloney before he curled a stunning shot beyond David Forde on the ground where he started his career:
Scotland still had to negotiate a late scare in injury time when a delicious free kick from substitute Robbie Brady was headed beyond his own goalkeeper and onto the bar by centre back Grant Hanley, but Scotland held on for a win that they just about deserved.
After Poland and Germany both won 4-0 against Georgia and Gibraltar respectively, Scotland and Ireland could well now be looking at a fight for third place in the group and a play-off for qualification for France 2016.