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Dublin: 4°C Sunday 16 May 2021


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Good afternoon and welcome to the Aviva Stadium on Lansdowne Road. There’s still 40 minutes to kick-off but already, the buzz is starting to build inside the ground.

It’s a gorgeous evening in Dublin city, although the sun has hidden itself away in behind a cloud at the moment. Still, no complaints!

If you’ve been in and around Dublin at all today, you’ll know that there is a HUGE contingent of travelling Scottish support in town. There were estimates that around 20,000 fans would travel over for the weekend — let’s hope that they don’t all have tickets!

TEAM NEWS: Martin O’Neill has thrown a few wild cards into his starting XI with Jeff Hendrick and Daryl Murphy both handed starts. Shane Long is the man who will feel most aggrieved to miss out, while it seems that Aiden McGeady hasn’t fully recovered from his hamstring issue.

IRELAND: Given; Coleman, O’Shea (c), Wilson, Brady; Whelan, McCarthy; Hendrick, Hoolahan, Walters; Murphy.

TEAM NEWS: Gordon Strachan has left speedster Ikechi Anya on the bench, with Matt Ritchie on the wing instead.

We’ll shelve all of our Enya/Sail Away/Orinoco Flow puns for the moment…

SCOTLAND: Marshall, Hutton, Forsyth, Martin, Mulgrew, Maloney, Morrison, Brown (c), S Fletcher, Naismith, Ritchie.

What do you make of that Ireland team then? Robbie Keane has been a doubt all week but O’Neill’s decision to go with Daryl Murphy ahead of Shane Long is bound to be a divisive one.

Murphy scored 27 goals in the Championship last season — but he has never found the net for Ireland. Will today be the day he breaks his duck?

Of course, nobody is really too sure how Ireland will line up. The official Uefa team-sheet suggests a 4-4-2 with Wes and Hendrick on the wings, and Walters and Murphy up top.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hendrick and Walters as the wide men with Wes in the hole behind though.

James McCarthy gets a frosty reception from the away end as the Irish team is announced over the PA. You can expect plenty more where that came from.

There hasn’t been a great deal of confidence in Irish football circles this week — not overtly, anyway — but the bookies make the Boys in Green the 13/10 favourites. Scotland are 5/2 to spoil the party, and it’s 2/1 the draw.

Ten minutes to kick-off here in the Aviva… and there are still a lot of empty seats. The mad dash from the Dublin 4 bars is in full swing, I’d imagine.

Here’s to you, Daryl Murphy. A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The teams are out, where they will be greeted by President Higgins. It’s as loud in the Aviva Stadium as I can remember in quite a while.

Time for the national anthems. I quite like ‘Flower of Scotland’ — am I allowed say that today?

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Wowzers. That was intense x 2.


We’re underway in the Aviva Stadium. Ireland are attacking the Havelock Square end — hereafter known as the away end — in this first half.


Positive start by Ireland with Robbie Brady looking to get forward as much as he can. Glimpse of a chance for Wes on the edge of the box but he can’t get his shot off.


First touch for David Marshall as Jeff Hendrick fires a cross in at the near post. The Scottish keeper gathers.


Jon Walters manages to force his way past Craig Forsyth and into the Scottish box but he runs out of space and loses possession.


Sloppy by Marc Wilson. He’s under no pressure but passes the ball straight to James Morrison. He plays in Naismith, who will certainly be a handful again today, but he drags his shot wide.


Mile a minute stuff here. Forsyth nearly lets Murphy in, but Scotland get away with conceding a corner and nothing worse.


Brady whips in a corner and Marshall comes and collects in a crowded area at the edge of his six-yard box. Promising delivery though by Ireland’s set-piece man.


James McCarthy introduces himself to Scott Brown in midfield, and gets a telling-off from referee Nicola Rizzoli for his troubles.


Ireland very much on the front foot in these opening minutes, and both Coleman and Brady seem to have licence to get up and attack the Scottish full-backs. Coleman tries to twist and turn inside Forsyth but his cross drifts harmlessly behind.


First real chance of the game as Fletcher fizzes a shot towards goal, and it’s just tipped over by Given.

Ireland switch off a bit from the resulting corner and they’re fortunate not be caught out by Scotland’s short-corner routine.


Daryl Murphy has been Shay Given’s target for most of these opening 15 minutes and he does well here, coming deep and laying the ball off to Hendrick who in turn spreads it wide to Brady in acres of space.

His cross is a tempter, but having started the move, Murphy can’t quite get on the end of it when he slides in at the back post.


Nice football by Murphy, Hoolahan and Brady who knock the ball around in little triangles. After that patient build-up, Glenn Whelan charges on to the ball but his shot is just wide.

Ireland putting together some really nice, positive moves at the moment but they’ve yet to really test Marshall.


Walters and Murphy are getting plenty of joy out of Scottish centre-halves Martin and Mulgrew. Again, Coleman bombs on. His cross is knocked back to Marshall by Ritchie but referee Rizzoli says no back pass despite the howls of the Dublin crowd.


If you had 20 minutes, Glenn Whelan, in the first booking sweepstakes, come on down! He takes Fletcher’s ankles from underneath him and goes in the book.


There seems to be a very deliberate Irish tactic to load everything down the right side, putting Scottish left full Forsyth under pressure. From another Given bomb, Hendrick gets Coleman into position but his cross is turned behind.

Good delivery from Brady’s corner, again, but Scotland clear their lines.


Great Irish pressure in midfield with Hoolahan leading the charge, and McCarthy and Whelan rowing in behind. Scotland not getting a moment to settle but they’re looking dangerous when they’re on the ball.


Even Martin O’Neill is competing for possession…

Source: James Crombie/INPHO


Roars for handball from the home fans as Hutton lets Walters cross drop over his head. Hoolahan is there and as he clips it back inside, it comes off the turning defender’s hand. The Italian ref waves it away without a moment’s hesitation.


James McCarthy jumps to compete with Russell Martin but leads with his arm, and is booked.

“James McCarthy, he’s one of our own,” is the change from the home fans. Naturally.


Fletcher takes a tumble in the Irish box with his Sunderland pal John O’Shea in close attention. It’s an Irish free though.


Great vision again by Hendrick who finds Coleman bombing down the right. The cross is disappointing though and cut out by the first Scottish man, Forsyth, at the near post.


John OÕShea and Steven Fletcher O'Shea and Fletcher: Sunderland team-mates have been getting to know each other even better today. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Flag 38Mins

GOAL! Ireland 1-0 Scotland (Walters, 38′)

IRELAND LEAD – Jon Walters bundles the ball over the line from two yards out and the Aviva erupts! How massive could that be in the context of Group D?

It comes from a Brady corner which Murphy meets, powering his header towards goal. The ball comes back off Marshall’s legs but Walters is there to smash in the opener.

A deserved lead for Ireland, you’d have to say.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO


It looks — and sounds — like every Irish fan in the ground is on their feet, roaring the team on in search of a second before the break.


Marc Wilson hoofs the ball downfield to relieve a moment of Scottish pressure — and immediately turns to apologise to manager Martin O’Neill who is furious at the waste of possession.


Wonderful battling by James McCarthy to spark another Irish attack. The Scottish defender gets to the cross before Murphy though and it’s an Irish corner.


What a chance! Brady’s whipped delivery bounces inside the six-yard box. Murphy is the nearest man to it but he can’t get his toe on it.

That’s a let-off for the Scots. It so easily could be 2-0.


There’ll be two additional minutes at the end of the half.


Half time update from Warsaw: Poland 0-0 Georgia. There you are now.

We’ve just seen a replay of the goal here in the stadium. Walters was offside as Murphy headed the ball but it was missed by the officials – a huge slice of luck!

We’re back underway. One Scottish change with Ikechi Anya on for Matt Ritchie.

Flag 47Mins

GOAL FOR SCOTLAND! (Maloney, 47′) What a start by the Scots who’ve equalised within a minute of the restart.

Naismith starts the move and then Maloney plays the one-two with the sub Anya. His shot comes off O’Shea’s back, who turned away from it, and Given has no chance as it bobbles into the corner.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO


Very nearly the perfect riposte by Ireland. Murphy’s shot is save by Marshall and then as Walters follows up on the rebound, Martin turns it behind.


Ireland back on the front foot again since the goal but the Scottish defence is holding firm so far.


O’Shea penalised for a push on Naismith and Scotland have a free, 28 yards out, dead centre…


Mulgrew fires it over the wall – and over the bar!


Snifter of a chance for Murphy as he tries to outmuscle Mulgrew to get on the end of a long ball but it comes to nothing.


Forsyth tries to whip in a cross but Given is alert to claim on the edge of his six yard box.

UPDATE FROM POLAND: It’s Poland 1-0 Georgia; Milik with the goal in the 62nd minute.


Looks like Jon Walters might be struggling a little bit here. The Irish subs are out warming up, including Robbie Keane.


Anya is causing Ireland all sorts of problems as you might expect. He links well with Naismith as Scotland drive forward but credit to Hendrick, he’s tracking the winger’s run all the way and knocks it behind for a corner.


It’s Anya again who is causing the problems for Scotland, pinning Coleman back. His cross takes a deflection and Shay Given has to be at his agile best to palm it away from goal. Ireland clear after a scramble.


The Aviva crowd is doing its best to be the 12th man, imploring referee Rizzoli for a free every time a Irish man is touched. It’s not working though.


IRELAND SUB: James McClean is on to replace Glenn Whelan. Can we expect another full-blooded introduction for one of the Scottish players?


That’s a real roll of the dice by Martin O’Neill, taking off the most defensive of Ireland’s midfield players for the more attack-minded McClean.


IRELAND SUB: Here’s Robbie! Keane comes on to a massive ovation to replace Wes Hoolahan for the final 18 minutes.


Ireland pouring on the pressure here in search of the goal that might well define this campaign. Maloney does just enough to knock the ball behind for a corner.


It opens up for Robbie, and he’s never one to pass up a shot on goal. It’s well-struck but it’s comfortable for Marshall who gets his body behind it.


Twelve minutes for Ireland to find their winner. Scotland trying to take the sting out of the game.


IRELAND SUB: Shane Long is on for Daryl Murphy for the last 10 minutes. All the cards have been played now; O’Neill knows that a draw is unlikely to be enough for Ireland.


Mad scramble in the Ireland box as a Scottish corner pings from man to man before Wilson hacks it clear.


Martin O’Neill is getting more and more animated as the decisions keep going against Ireland. Walters wins a free and it’s a chance for Brady to launch one towards the Scottish goal.


Ireland corner. Brady to take… and OOOH! McClean’s near-post header off a Scot and behind for another corner.




SCOTLAND SUB: James McArthur on for Scott Brown.


Long wins the header to knock it down for Keane and, for a fleeting second, Germany 2002 flashes before our eyes. Forsyth gets across to nick it away though.


One eye on the clock, one eye on the action. Will Ireland get one last chance?


Scotland in possession and doing their best to hold onto the ball, building patiently.


Brady does brilliantly to win the header ahead of Fletcher, and then scampers to keep the ball in play.

Bookings for both McClean and Naismith for a little bit of a tussle and when play resumes, it will be a Scottish throw.


90 seconds to play, plus the rest.


Ireland have scored so many late goals. Is there one more in them? There’s a free on the half-way line.


Ireland throw at the Scottish corner flag.


Three additional minutes for Ireland’s winner…


It seems like practically every green jersey is in the Scottish box but Brady overhits his cross, and the stadium groans.


SCOTLAND SUB: Berra on for Naismith as Strachan tries to win down the clock. That’s eaten up a good 40 seconds. Just over a minute left.


A roar for a handball, more out of desperation than anything else. This looks to be gone for Ireland…


Last attack!


Brady’s cross hits McClean and bobbles harmlessly behind for a goal kick.

A massive sense of anti-climax in the Aviva Stadium. The home fans know that might well be the result that seals Ireland’s fate in Group D.

All of the noise is coming from the visitors who have taken a massive step on the road to France with the point.

That’s it from us for now. We’ll have lots more reaction and analysis from the Aviva Stadium across the evening.

Thanks for reading.

About the author:

Niall Kelly