Scotland come from behind to grab draw against Ireland
DUBLIN – Scotland came from behind to draw 1-1 with Ireland in their Euro 2016 qualifier on Saturday and stay two points clear of their opponents in a likely battle for a third place playoff spot in Group D.
Jonathan Walters handed Ireland a deserved first half lead but Shaun Maloney’s deflected shot off the back of John O’Shea early in the second half kept Scottish hopes of reaching a first major championship in almost 20 years very much alive.
Ireland dominated the first half hour but were let down by their accuracy in the final third, handing little opportunity the way of Daryl Murphy, starting alone up front ahead of Shane Long and Ireland’s top scorer Robbie Keane.
When a cross finally found Murphy, the 32-year-old Ipswich Town striker forced David Marshall into an awkward save and from the resulting corner, another parried Murphy header fell at the feet of Walters to open the scoring on 38 minutes.
Murphy, top scorer in England’s second tier this season, could have made it two a minute from halftime but he failed to connect with another wickedly whipped in Robbie Brady corner.
All that hard work was nullified a minute into the second half when the hosts fell asleep and Maloney, whose strike at Celtic Park handed Ireland their only defeat of the campaign so far, was given too much space in the run up to O’Shea’s own goal.
Murphy could have put Ireland back in front within a minute after being put through by Wes Hoolahan, but he was denied by Marshall who had little to do for rest of the game as Ireland struggled to regain the initiative.
Group leaders Poland’s 4-0 win over Georgia means they are three points ahead of Scotland and five clear of Ireland. World champions Germany will move two points clear of Scotland with a win over bottom-placed Gibraltar later on Saturday. –Reuters