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Diminutive playmaker Shaun Maloney separated the sides with a brilliant curling effort in the 75th minute after linking up well with Scott Brown following a short corner. Maloney, Steven Naismith and Ikechi Anya formed a creative threat to the Irish in a first half that Scotland dominated without being able to carve open many chances. Press Association “There wasn’t much football but any chance they had they did that. “That’s brave to play when the ball is flying about and the tackles are flying in everywhere. “That was like one of those big heavyweight boxing matches.” Strachan reserved special praise for Celtic midfielder Charlie Mulgrew, who seemed to have a yard more space than anyone else on the park. “Charlie was absolutely immense,” Strachan said. “Normally we come here and say what a game Scott Brown had. But Charlie has taken the mantle, ably backed up by the people round about him.” Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill felt there was little in the game but admitted his players had not produced their best, including Aiden McGeady. The former Celtic winger – booed throughout on his return to the ground where he made his name – made little impact in the first half and was booked for a bad foul on Steven Fletcher. The native Scot improved after the break, putting in some dangerous crosses and forcing a good save from David Marshall. But O’Neill said: “I think Aiden, like a number of players, for the sort of form he has shown recently, would have been a bit frustrated.” When asked if the atmosphere and occasion had got to the Everton player, O’Neill added: “I haven’t spoken to him about that but for the form he has shown for us and the games he has won for us recently, he had a frustrating time.” The former Celtic manager likened the game to a club derby. “I thought it was a frenetic game. I don’t thing either of the two sides were able to get it down and play. “Scotland weren’t able to get hold of it either and we weren’t able to do so. “We said this was going to be a derby game, a derby feel, a derby atmosphere, and it had all those ingredients. Neither of the teams were able to keep possession long enough. “Maybe that was because of the atmosphere or maybe a bit of nervousness that applied to it but I think that applied to both teams.” Meanwhile, O’Neill explained his surprise decision to leave top goalscorer Robbie Keane on the bench until the 78th minute. “I make decisions for the good of the team and Robbie accepted it because we were playing away from home and we wanted to stretch them, and Shane Long can do that,” he said. But Maloney’s piece of brilliance – inspired by coach Stuart McCall’s short-corner routine – edged a closer second half in a frantic European Championship qualifier at Celtic Park. Strachan said: “I said earlier in the week that there was one goal deciding all the games in the group, outwith Gibraltar, and it happened again. We did say set-plays were going to be big and it happened. “As for a pure football spectacle, it wasn’t that great. But for a spectacle of two groups of players not wanting to give an inch, it was mesmerising. “They wanted to jump higher than each other, run quicker, tackle harder. And the fans made it an occasion. “We are just fortunate that Stuart McCall came up with that set-play he came away with. “You can put on a set play but you have to be able to finish like that.” Strachan has created a three-pronged attack behind Steven Fletcher in his own image. The former Manchester United midfielder said: “I have to say our smaller guys, considering the height and power they were playing against, were very brave on and off the ball. Scotland manager Gordon Strachan hailed his pint-sized heroes for emerging victorious in a “heavyweight” contest with the Republic of Ireland.
Gonzalez had been sitting on 999 career runs batted in for all of 24 hours when he belted a home run to left-center field. The two-run blast gave the Dodgers an 8-0 lead and gave Gonzalez 1,001 career RBIs. The veteran first baseman obliged the standing crowd of 40,667 with a curtain call on the top step of the Dodgers’ dugout. “That was cool,” Gonzalez said.In 44 games this season, the veteran first baseman has 10 home runs and 35 RBIs to go with a .344 batting average. Gonzalez hit eight home runs in April and has two in May. All along, Gonzalez insisted he was “not a home run hitter.” Even Tuesday, he said he was merely trying to take a line drive to the opposite field against Teheran.“That was a line drive,” he said. “It just carried enough.”The Braves are a middling 22-23, a team the Dodgers are expected to beat. Maybe it isn’t surprising that they have scored 14 runs in their last two games – more than in their previous eight games combined.Tuesday, they did it with just one home run, a change of pace for a club that’s hit an NL-leading 60 homers this season.“I don’t know what we’re going to end up being,” manager Don Mattingly said, “but we’re pretty good at battling.”The sixth-inning rally began when Howie Kendrick lined a double to left-center field to drive in Jimmy Rollins. RBI hits by Justin Turner, Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis and finally Kershaw himself ran up the score to 6-0.Maybe the long inning took its toll on Kershaw’s concentration, or maybe the Braves were simply due. Nick Markakis led off the fifth inning with a single to left field, ending Kershaw’s quest for a perfect game and a no-hitter.“You never want to take your foot off the gas, but when you have six or seven runs you definitely have more margin for error,” Kershaw said. “You don’t want to walk guys. You don’t want to give guys easy outs. You don’t want your defense to be out there for a long time. So just be aggressive. Attack, attack, attack and see what happens.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error In all the ways that matter to the 2015 Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw did not need to beat the Atlanta Braves the way he did Tuesday.Kershaw took a perfect game into the fifth inning of the Dodgers’ 8-0 win. He didn’t walk anyone in seven innings while striking out 10. For the first time all season, he left a game without allowing a run. In short, he looked like the same pitcher who won the National League MVP and Cy Young awards in 2014. But the Dodgers were already in first place before Tuesday. Their starting rotation might not have had its ace, or Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, but the club has a 28-17 record that ranks second only to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL.Kershaw’s performance Tuesday mattered more to those who questioned “what happened” to the Kershaw of years past. To them, Kershaw said, “I guess I’m indifferent.” “I don’t really care, I guess,” he continued. “I’m just trying to win, trying to pitch. People are going to have opinions, I guess. People have high expectations for me too, which is great. At the end of the day I only care about what my teammates and coaches think. If they see something they want to tell me, great, but if anybody else does I don’t really care.”“That’s the Kershaw we know,” Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. “We know what Kershaw is and what he’s going to bring every day.”The run support hasn’t always been there recently – for Kershaw or any Dodgers pitcher. Tuesday, a six-run fourth inning against Braves starter Julio Teheran (4-2) helped Kershaw even his record at 3-3. Every Dodgers starter – including Kershaw – had a hit. The Dodgers collected 11 hits as a team, including Gonzalez’s 10th home run of the season.