Scotland: Shaun Maloney's goal 'did not work in training'

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland at Celtic Park
Interview - Scotland's Sean Maloney

Scotland midfielder Shaun Maloney said his superb winner in the 1-0 win over Republic of Ireland in their Euro 2016 qualifier had not worked in training.

His delicious curling shot capped a training ground set-piece, created by Gordon Strachan's assistants Mark McGhee and Stuart McCall.

"We train very hard on them," he said. "A lot of the time, they don't happen.

"Sometimes you don't even try them, but thankfully tonight we did and it affected the result."

The only goal in Friday's game at Celtic Park was a three-man move, starting with a short corner between Maloney and Ikechi Anya.

Scotland midfielder Shaun Maloney
"I think there's still so many games - obviously we have to play Ireland, Poland and Germany again - it's far too open and it's just for anyone to go and grasp."

Maloney then played it through a defender's legs to Scott Brown, who back-heeled it into the path of the winger to curl it past the outstretched arms of David Forde and inside the far post.

"It's a special moment for myself and the team," Maloney said. "Just very fortunate that we were on the right end of the result.

"We had a day when we worked on set pieces and we tried it a few times and it didn't quite end up how it did tonight."

Maloney added that, with the Irish set-up being different from what the Scots were expecting, his nutmeg pass to Brown had not been in the blueprint.

"That was something that wasn't quite planned, but the main theme was sort of there," he said, playing down the quality of the goal.

"I don't think it was that good. It was just a fantastic moment, to score.

"I've played football at this stadium for a long time and it was just really good to be back, to have a moment like that - for your country and what it meant for us, it's just made it a brilliant night."

Shaun Maloney is congratulated by Scotland captain Scott Brown
Wigan Athletic midfielder Shaun Maloney has scored four goals for Scotland

While delighted with the goal and the victory, Maloney in typically down-to-earth fashion was reluctant to draw too many conclusions from the result which put Scotland third in Group D with seven points from four matches.

They are level on points with second-placed world champions Germany and fourth-placed Republic of Ireland, while group leaders Poland have 10 points.

"It's a big result for us but I think the group is so wide open I don't think it'll have a massive implication on how the group will end," he said.

"Saying that, it was a pretty important night for us. I think we all felt the pressure."

Asked if he thought Scotland had shown they were a better team than Republic of Ireland, who they have to play in Dublin, he replied: "No, I didn't feel that.

"I don't think there's much between the sides. I think it'll be pretty similar in June."

However, Maloney, along with his team-mates, is clearly enjoying life under Strachan.

"I thoroughly enjoy playing with the country and with the way the manager wants us to press," he said.

"It gives me the opportunity to be a bit higher up the pitch, which will give me more opportunities to score.

"The players now know how to play with each other and the manager and his coaching staff have got to take the majority of the credit for that.

"The belief is obviously going to rise, knowing that we can handle the pressure. That'll give us a confidence boost.

"As for the group, I think there's still so many games - obviously we have to play Ireland, Poland and Germany again - it's far too open and it's just for anyone to go and grasp."