O’Neill: Ireland’s fate will be decided in the Aviva stadium

O’Neill: Ireland’s fate will be decided in the Aviva stadium

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill claimed his side’s Euro 2016 hopes will be determined in Dublin after Scotland inflicted their first defeat of the campaign.

O’Neill was undone by a former player as Shaun Maloney scored a brilliantly-worked goal following a short corner at the Celtic Park venue where the pair worked together.

But O’Neill’s men had already claimed four points from away games against Georgia and Germany and the former Celtic boss was in defiant mood after the 1-0 loss, which left them level on points with Scotland and Germany and three behind group leaders Poland, who won 4-0 in Georgia.

O’Neill, who admitted they had missed injured midfielders Glenn Whelan and James McCarthy, said: “That’s us and Scotland on seven points each. Our own fate will depend on what happens in the Aviva Stadium.

“We have four of the next five games at home. We have come out of a difficult time. We have played three away games and one at home and have seven points on the board.

“Poland have come out with a win in Georgia and I still think Germany are the strongest team in the group.

“It’s going to be tough but we are still there. Everything is to play for.

“We have to get ourselves together and be ready for Poland in March. Where it will always count for us is in the Aviva, where we are always able to win those home games.

“We are absolutely still in this, without a doubt.”

O’Neill again brushed off an incident on Wednesday night in Dublin when police were called after an incident involving his assistant Roy Keane.

Keane also endured an unhappy return to Celtic Park, being warned by the referee for haranguing the fourth official.

O’Neill said: “The Roy Keane incident has genuinely not bothered me. Someone said the other night ’Was it a distraction?’ and that was all it was. Injuries are part of football.

“The game was on a knife edge and could have gone either way.”

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan felt the hard-fought victory was further evidence of his side’s ability to adapt to different challenges.

Strachan said: “We have played in football games and believe we can play football, and we played in a more physical duel and we dealt with that as well.

“They trust each other. They know fine well if they are not having a great night the guy next to them will help them out.”

The physical encounter will ensure Strachan fields a different starting line-up against England on Tuesday night with Steven Fletcher set to miss out after limping off in the 55th minute following an earlier bad foul by Aiden McGeady.

When asked if he would need to change the team, Strachan said: “I think so because they put so much into that game. That was like one of those big heavyweight boxing contests.”

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