Shaun Maloney revealed his outstanding winning goal for Scotland against the Republic of Ireland was the result of a well-worked training ground move.
Maloney curled in a fine shot from an angle in the 75th minute to give Scotland a 1-0 win at Celtic Park.
Scotland took a short corner which culminated in Scott Brown back-heeling the ball into Maloney’s path, and his shot brushed the inside of the far post on its way in.
“On those occasions, you try to pick a spot,” Maloney said on Sky Sports 5. “You do it hundreds of time in training and thankfully this time it’s in the net.
“(Brown) has seen me brilliantly. It was sort of worked out on the training ground. I’m not sure it was fully like that, but it worked and it’s brilliant to get the win.”
The goal was all that separated the two teams in a frantic match full of emotion and intensity, if not always quality.
“It was pretty brutal,” Maloney said. “It wasn’t pretty at times. We tried to play but it was a physical game and we were glad to be on the winning side.”
Richard Keogh’s header hit the crossbar for the Republic in stoppage time but Scotland hung on for a win that moves them level with their opponents on seven points, third in the group and three points behind leaders Poland.
“It was a great victory for us in terms of the group,” said goalkeeper David Marshall. “Obviously Ireland started really well and started reasonably well but this puts us in a great position going into the next games.”
Manager Gordon Strachan credited Stuart McCall with the idea for the set-play, but hailed the entire team for their performance on the night.
Asked if he was proud, Strachan said: “I am because that was an epic dual that. From early in the game we knew what was going to happen but we dealt with it most of the time. We tried to get on the ball and play. They’re a big strong side, great professionals and well organised.
“We knew it was going to be hard. We had a smaller front three but we kept persevering, trying to play and eventually from a Stuart McCall corner kick we scored a goal.”
However, Strachan revealed that Steven Fletcher sustained an injury which is likely to keep him out of the friendly against England.
“We wouldn’t be able to risk him,” he said. “We wouldn’t want to risk it for Sunderland. We’ll knock it on the head if he’s walking out of here with protective boots on. There’s no way we’re going to try and play him against England.”
Republic boss Martin O'Neill was upset by the defending that led to Scotland's goal.
“Major games are being decided by set-pieces so that’s something we’re obviously naturally disappointed with,” he said. “It wasn’t quick build-up by Scotland. They forced a corner, sent two men out with a third going out there and we didn’t react quickly enough. That was suicidal.”
However, while disappointed with the result, O’Neill insisted nothing was decided yet in the qualification battle.
“We’re beaten tonight but we have seven points from four, the same as Scotland, and Scotland still have to come to us.”