Scotland manager Gordon Strachan admitted his team had surprised even him with their performance in a dramatic 2-1 victory over Macedonia on a poor pitch in Skopje.
Scotland were not allowed to train on the full Philip II Arena pitch on Monday night after the turf cut up badly during Macedonia's 2-1 win over Wales three days earlier.
But Strachan's men produced an impressive display and dominated the first half before Ikechi Anya marked a brilliant full international debut with a well-taken opener on the hour mark.
Substitute keeper Matt Gilks, who came on at half-time after David Marshall suffered a hip injury, made a number of excellent saves before Ivan Kostovski levelled in the 84th minute.
But Maloney, who gave the ball away moments before the equaliser, curled into the top corner five minutes later to lift Scotland off the bottom of their World Cup qualifying group and above their hosts and Wales into fourth spot.
Strachan said: "You look at the surface and think a win would be great.
"How do you win? You think a couple of breakaways, you try your best.
"But to play like that and get a win, because that's a win and a performance, was terrific - against a side who beat Wales.
"The first half we were exceptional and the second half we were good. You expect Macedonia to come back. You expect their manager say things at half-time and they did that, they made it very difficult.
"But we still tried to play at all times."