Republic of Ireland 1-1 Scotland
Saturday 13th June 2015, 5pm kick-off
Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Walters 38; O’Shea OG 47
Shaun Maloney came back to haunt the Irish as Scotland claimed a credible 1-1 draw in a feisty EURO qualifier in Dublin.
The Republic of Ireland took a first-half lead through Jon Walters but were come undone once again by some Maloney magic – who netted that famous winner in the reverse fixture – after the winger curled a shot off John O’Shea and into the net.
It’s a result that could prove crucial for Scotland’s EURO 2016 hopes and keeps us two-points ahead of Martin O’Neill’s team in the Group D standings.
Four changes were made to the Scotland team that recorded that memorable win at Celtic Park last November. Alan Hutton and Craig Forsyth were brought in to patrol the flanks, with James Morrison and Matt Ritchie added to a familiar looking 4-2-3-1 line-up.
Martin O’Neill’s side wasted no time getting into gear, piling on the pressure from the start and forcing David Marshall into a couple of early catches.
An excellent knock-down from Shaun Maloney presented Steven Fletcher with Scotland’s first chance on 11 minutes, unfortunately the Sunderland striker’s drive was tipped over by Shay Given.
Gordan Strachan had told fans to expect an occasion pre-game and what the first 20 minutes lacked in skill it certainly made up for in grit. Both teams were quick into the challenge with a few feisty tackles going against both countries.
Scotland’s main worry was dealing with the Republic of Ireland’s countless set-pieces - a threat that would eventually lead to the opener. On 38 minutes an Irish corner swung in from the left found its way to Darryl Murphy who headed towards goal. Marshall got a hand but could only parry as far as Jon Walters who prodded home to give Ireland a lead, despite shouts of offside.
So it was the Republic of Ireland who would go into half-time with the margin of victory. Scotland responded by introducing Ikechi Anya at the break and the Watford winger would go on to make an immediate impact.
Within seconds of the restart Naismith held the ball on the left before releasing a pass to Shaun Maloney, waiting in space on the edge of the box. The Chicago Fire winger played a neat one-two with Anya before curling the ball into Given’s bottom corner. John O’Shea looked to have taken a touch but it will be of little relevance to Maloney who wheeled away in celebration.
The goal seemed to invigorate the Scotland team and they came close to claiming a second on 65 minutes. Anya with a trademark sprint down the left wing before knocking in a cross that almost deflected over Shay Given who had to scramble to palm away.
Ireland continued to threaten on the set piece and their numerous corners were beginning to really test the Scotland backline. It was through one of those corners that substitute Robbie Keane claimed a loose ball and fired a powerful drive that forced Marshall into a catch.
Again and again Scotland stood up to an onslaught of Irish crosses with Charlie Mulgrew and Russell Martin standing up well to the challenge.
With Scotland fans’ fingernails bitten away the team battled onto the full-time whistle for a point that could prove vital to the group standings come October.
Scotland: Marshall, Hutton, Forsyth, Martin, Mulgrew, Maloney, Morrison, Brown (C) (McArthur 85), S.Fletcher, Naismith (Berra 90), Ritchie (Anya 45)
Subs not used: Gordon (GK), Whittaker, D.Fletcher, Adam, Greer, Robertson, Forrest, Griffiths, Samson (GK)
Republic of Ireland: Given, Coleman, Brady, Wilson, O'Shea, McCarthy, Whelan, Hendrick, Hoolahan, Walters, Murphy