Belfast Telegraph

Shay Given: Republic can conjure up bit of magic to win

By Damian Spellman

Shay Given has admitted the Republic of Ireland's hopes of Euro 2016 victory over Scotland could come down to a single moment of magic.

The Republic face the Scots at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday knowing a win is vital if they are to maintain their chances of snatching one of the two automatic qualification spots in Group D.

They will run out determined to exact revenge for their 1-0 defeat by Gordon Strachan's men in Glasgow in November, which was sealed by Shaun Maloney's fine 74th-minute strike, and keeper Given admits it might take something similar to decide the reverse fixture.

He said: "It was a moment of magic that won the game for them in Glasgow. These are the small margins that win and lose you the big games. Hopefully it will be us with the moment of magic on Saturday.

"The two teams are fairly equal and it will be a case of who plays better on the night.

"It's a 50-50 game. Both teams are capable of winning it, we just have to make sure it is us, but I certainly don't think they have a better squad than us."

The Republic warmed up for their showdown against the Scots with a lacklustre 0-0 friendly draw against England in Dublin on Sunday.

Given played the final 29 minutes after replacing Keiren Westwood.

Skipper Robbie Keane was due to join up with his team-mates yesterday after playing for LA Galaxy at the weekend, while defender John O'Shea was nursing a tight calf muscle, a problem he has had for some time, but not one which is likely to threaten his participation at the weekend.

Martin O'Neill, who was last night in a minor car accident with assistant Roy Keane on the M15 motorway in Dublin, and his team are two points behind the Scots. The duo returned to the Republic's hotel to see the team doctor.

Defeat to Strachan's men would leave them at least six points behind group leaders Poland - who take on Georgia - five behind the Scots and possibly just as many behind Germany, the world champions tackling minnows Gibraltar.

Scotland's Steven Naismith has warned that will be difficult to overcome.

The Everton forward said: "If they lose it would put them at a disadvantage but I wouldn't say they'd be totally out of it.

"They would still have a big part to play in terms of facing the other teams and if they put a run of wins together they would still have a chance, but to be honest I'm not really bothered about what Ireland are doing, it's more about what we have to do.

"We felt we deserved our win in the first game against Ireland back in November and I'm sure we'll watch clips. Winning that at Celtic Park gives confidence.

"The build up and the feeling before it had the sense of being a real big match so as the week rolls on I think it will be similar again."

Belfast Telegraph