Scotland bolstered their chances of qualifying for Euro 2016 with a 1-0 victory at home over the Republic of Ireland at Parkhead on Friday. The hosts controlled for much of the match, and were deserving of Shaun Maloney's winning goal -- even if they had to wait 75 minutes for it to be scored.
The first quarter of the match was a frantic affair, with both sides playing at a tempo not exactly conducive to high-quality football. But before long, Scotland settled into dominating possession, with a patient passing game that contrasted with Ireland's much more direct approach. Yet, while the hosts saw plenty of the ball, they didn't see much of the goal, with Martin O'Neill's side staying disciplined at the back.
Eventually, with just over 10 minutes of the half remaining, Scotland created the game's first real chance. An inch-perfect cross from Shaun Maloney found the head of Charlie Mulgrew in the box, though the onrushing Celtic man had his effort diverted agonizingly wide by Ireland full-back Séamus Coleman. Scotland continued to bombard the Ireland box with crosses through to halftime, but the game stayed level.
Ireland were rather better in the second half, responding tofirst-half dominance with a spell of pressure of their own. Wingers James McClean and Aiden McGeady were at the heart of their dangerous wide-play, and the latter forced a fine save from Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall just short of the hour mark when he volleyed a loose ball low towards goal.
However, once again Scotland created the better opportunities, and should have taken the lead 66 minutes into the match. A low cross from Steven Naismith found substitute Chris Martin in the penalty area, though the Derby County man slotted his first-time effort just wide of David Forde's goal. With the game opening out and both sides starting to carve out chances, it seemed the opening goal was nearing.
So it proved with just 15 minutes left on the clock. Ireland forward Jonathan Walters flicked the ball off his own crossbar and behind for a corner, from which a well-worked training ground routine culminated in Maloney slipping into some space on the edge of the area, and curling the ball just inside Forde's far post. Ireland failed to muster a response, and the Scots hung on for a vital three points.
Scotland: Marshall; Robertson, Hanley, R. Martin, Whittaker; Mulgrew, Brown; Anya (D. Fletcher 88'), Naismith, Maloney; S. Fletcher (C. Martin 56').
Goals: Maloney (75').
Republic of Ireland: Forde; Ward, O'Shea, Keogh, Coleman; McClean, Hendrick (Keane 78'), Gibson (Quinn 69'), McGeady; Walters, Long (Brady 68').