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Ireland vs Wales – Highlights





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Stadium: Aviva Stadium (Dublin)

Referee: N. Rizzoli

2 Ball Possession Shots off target Shots on target

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Wales v Republic of Ireland: Coleman wants players to make more history

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Wales manager Chris Coleman wants his “golden generation” to forget the past and make more history when they face the Republic of Ireland in their final World Cup qualifier on Monday.

Coleman guided Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 – their first major tournament for 58 years.

And a win on Monday could take them to their first World Cup since 1958.

“There is nothing for the players to fear,” said Coleman. “I think both teams are going to go for it.”

The winners in Cardiff will guarantee at least second in Group D, with a draw enough for Wales to end up in that position and, potentially, claim a play-off spot for Russia 2018.

Should Wales win and Serbia fail to beat Georgia, Coleman’s men would qualify automatically for Russia 2018.

They would secure top spot if they draw and Serbia lose by two goals.

Coleman said: “We don’t really talk about anything but what we need to be doing right now.

“They were labelled this ‘golden’ bunch of players before we qualified [for Euro 2016] and I fought against that, because they had not earned that tag.

“But they have earned it now. They are a golden era.

“This group of players have made a difference and they have gone one step further than anybody else that has come before them.

“The problem is, that is in the past as well. Whatever we have done is not going to help us against Ireland.”

Welsh Player of the Year Chris Gunter knows the country’s fans will be “nervous”.

But the Reading defender, who is set to move within two of Gary Speed’s Wales outfield record by winning his 83rd cap, said: “We really need them to fully believe in us and to fully back us and give us one last push.”

Coleman added: “I have sat there when I did not even know that, if the next result was a bad one, whether I would still be in a job.

“To be here now is an absolute joy for me.”

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Wales v Republic of Ireland: Hosts will relish World Cup qualifier pressure – Chris Coleman

By Michael Pearlman

BBC Wales Sport in Tbilisi

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Wales are relishing Monday’s World Cup qualifying decider against the Republic of Ireland and will go all out for victory, says manager Chris Coleman.

Tom Lawrence earned Wales a 1-0 win in Georgia on Friday to keep them in contention for automatic qualification from Group D.

Wales, unbeaten in qualifying, need only a point in Cardiff to guarantee second spot, and could top the group.

“It will be a sensational atmosphere – we welcome the pressure,” said Coleman.

Group leaders Serbia missed the chance to secure their place at the World Cup in Russia as they conceded in the last minute to lose 3-2 in Austria.

The Republic maintained their hopes with a 2-0 win over Moldova in Dublin.

Serbia are a point clear at the top and will qualify automatically if they beat Georgia.

However, if they lose, the winners of the Wales-Republic match will qualify, while a draw could send Wales through on goal difference.

From the nine European qualifying groups, the eight second-placed teams with the best records will advance to November’s two-legged play-offs.

Wales are currently ranked fifth in those standings as they aim to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958.

“These are the games you want to be involved in,” said Coleman, whose side have won three matches in a row after five successive draws left them on the brink of elimination.

“Ireland will come to party. They won’t fear us, they won’t be afraid. They’ll come to us and expect to get a result and we’ll be up against it.

“We’re on dangerous ground if we go in with a gameplan of trying to soak the pressure up for 90 minutes. We are too good to do that.”

Speaking before Serbia’s surprise defeat in Austria maintained Wales’ chances of topping the group, Coleman said: “We will go and attack, go and score goals.

“We have to do that – it’s our strength. A point would be OK but we’ll go for three points.

“That’s the way it’s set up; it’ll be such a good game. We’ll look to score goals and make sure we get over the line.”

Republic manager Martin O’Neill was similarly buoyant about his side’s prospects.

“I just remember that we went to Lille having to win to get into the last 16 [against Italy at Euro 2016] and we did it, so let’s go for this,” he said.

“We know what we have to do now. We have to win a game in Cardiff.”

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Doing the business without Bale

Wales’ win in Georgia – their first in five attempts against those opponents – was their first since 2013 without their talisman, Gareth Bale.

They had not won a qualifier away from home without the Real Madrid forward since a 1-0 victory over Azerbaijan in 2009.

“People say we haven’t won without Bale or won two games on the trot,” said Coleman.

“But the past four years have not just been about Gareth Bale. He’s super important to us but we haven’t had him, Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey all the time.

“Three times since [the Euro 2016 quarter-final] we’ve had them all on the pitch. That’s international football.

“Our team got on with the job, got over the line and we’re still in with a shout. We have a job to do and we have to get on with it.”

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Lawrence showed ‘courage, intelligence, maturity’

Lawrence’s long-range strike on only his ninth international appearance followed Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn’s stunning goal to beat Austria.

“It was all about Tom – he was fantastic,” said Coleman. “I am absolutely thrilled for him. The goal was sensational and he deserves that.

“He did a really good job for us against Austria in a very tough game. He came off the pitch, Ben Woodburn went on and scored a famous goal.

“Then we went to Moldova and Tom did a job for us there. He came off the pitch again and Ben went on, crossed the ball and set up the goal. There was nothing against Tom; he has done good work for us.

“His job was with possession and without possession and he absolutely nailed it. He showed courage and intelligence, and he showed great maturity.”

No yellow peril for Republic match

None of the seven players in the Wales side on a booking picked up a caution, meaning Wales will be free of suspension for the Ireland match.

Coleman said: “We were composed when we needed to be. We started with a bite about us in possession, so for the lads who were on yellows to come out with no further damage was a big plus.

“Obviously it is all about the three points, but to come through with no yellows ticked another box.”

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Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales: Neil Taylor sees red for Seamus Coleman tackle

By James Walker-Roberts

Last Updated: 25/03/17 9:28am

Republic of Ireland missed the chance to return to the top of World Cup Qualifying Group D after being held to a goalless draw by 10-man Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Friday.

Neil Taylor was shown a straight red card in the 69th minute for a lunging tackle on Seamus Coleman that saw the Everton defender carried off on a stretcher.

The hosts could not make the most of their numerical advantage and it was Wales who went closest to a winner as Gareth Bale fired just the post.

The draw sees Ireland move level with Serbia on 11 points at the top of Group D while Wales are third, four points behind.

Next up for Wales is a trip to Serbia in June, when they will be without the suspended Bale after he was booked for a second-half tackle on John O’Shea.

Ireland made a late change before the match as James McCarthy was withdrawn from the starting line-up minutes before kick-off and replaced by David Meyler, with Richard Keogh at centre-back alongside John O’Shea.

Hal Robson-Kanu was preferred to Sam Vokes up front by Wales, who dominated possession in a cagey first half.

While Ireland spent the majority of the opening 45 minutes around their own box, neither side created a chance.

Taylor would have been in on goal if he had been able to control Bale’s brilliant pass through the defence, while Shane Long had Ireland’s best opportunity when he failed to make contact from a corner.

But Wales started to create chances after the break, with Bale having the first shot on target as he hit a free-kick at Darren Randolph, and then firing narrowly wide from 30 yards.

Taylor headed off target from the penalty spot as Wales continued to threaten before half-time substitute Vokes dragged an effort wide.

But Wales suffered two setbacks inside a minute as Bale was booked for a late tackle on O’Shea and then Taylor was shown a straight red for a lunging tackle on Coleman.

After Coleman was carried off on a stretcher, Ireland raised the tempo and McClean saw a shot deflect just wide.

But Bale nearly won it for Wales with a fine solo effort as he burst forward from halfway and hit a shot that grazed the outside of the post.

Wales – Ireland Live Score, video stream and H2H results

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About the match

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Wales vs Republic of Ireland: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

Wales welcome the Republic of Ireland to Cardiff on Monday as both teams attempt to secure a place in the World Cup play-off round.

Chris Coleman’s Dragons come into the game one point ahead of the Boys in Green in second place and the winner of the game has a chance of progressing to the play-offs depending on results elsewhere. A draw could be enough for Wales, but Ireland must win if they want to have any hope of reaching the tournament in Russia next year.

Theoretically, automatic qualification is still a possibility for both sides, but that will ultimately depend on leaders Serbia slipping up at home to Georgia.

TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM

In the UK, the game will be available to watch live on television on Sky Sports Football, as well as being available to stream live using Sky Go. Viewers in Wales will be able to watch live on the Welsh language channel S4C or online using the Watch S4C facility.

Viewers in Ireland can watch the game live on RTE 2 or online via the RTE Player.

In the US, the game will broadcast live on television on FS2 and it will also be available to stream online using Fox Sports GO or Fox Soccer Match Pass.

SQUADS & TEAM NEWS

Wales must attempt to beat Ireland without the services of Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, who is ruled out with a calf injury. They will also be without West Ham defender James Collins and Swansea City’s Jazz Richards.

Potential starting XI: Hennessey; Gunter, A. Williams, Chester, Davies; King, Ledley, Allen, Ramsey, Lawrence; Vokes.

Ireland are boosted by the return of Robbie Brady and James McClean, who missed the game against Moldova through suspension, but Shane Long has been ruled out through injury.

James McCarthy has been training with the squad but played no part in the game against Moldova. However, he could potentially feature on the bench in Cardiff. Jonathan Walters is missing due to a knee injury, while Seamus Coleman is still unavailable as he recovers from a broken leg.

Potential starting XI: Randolph; Ward, Clark, Duffy, Christie; Meyler, Brady, Hendrick, McClean, Hoolahan; Murphy.

BETTING & MATCH ODDS

Wales have not suffered a competitive defeat at home in over four years and they are 5/4 favourites to win according to dabblebet. There are odds of 5/2 attached to an Ireland victory, while a draw is priced at 11/5.

GAME PREVIEW

Wales and Ireland played out a tempestuous 0-0 draw when they met in Dublin earlier this year in a game which was marred by Seamus Coleman’s horrendous leg-break and with the stakes high, the stage is set for another tense affair in Cardiff.

Chris Coleman said in the lead-up to the match that he is expecting “a hell of a game” and Ireland boss Martin O’Neill issued a rallying cry following his side’s victory over Moldova on Friday, knowing that nothing less than a win will suffice.

Interestingly, Coleman’s men are the only team in Group C that have yet to taste defeat in qualifying but, despite their impressive home record, they face a much more difficult task without the world-class ability of their talisman Bale.

Ireland, of course, are without their captain Seamus Coleman and they are also bereft of Jonathan Walters’ inspirational presence, but the absence of the Real Madrid forward serves as a tremendous boost to their chances nonetheless.

With Bale out of the picture, the teams are fairly evenly matched in terms of personnel so it is sure to be a tight game and, with the play-offs on the horizon, both managers will be hopeful that tempers do not boil over as they did in their last meeting.

Wales 0 Ireland 1: James McClean breaks Welsh hearts as Republic reach play-offs

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I t was just as the Wales fans had loudly evoked the spirit of Euro 2016 with a booming verse of ‘please don’t take me home’ that James McClean scored the goal that crushed hopes of another big party next summer.

The Republic of Ireland will instead go into the World Cup play-offs next month after a tactical master-class from Martin O’Neill first contained a barrage of early Welsh pressure and then saw his team pounce clinically to seize their chance.

Ireland clearly lack creative quality just now but, with O’Neill at the helm, their organisation and sheer character will ensure that they are a considerable obstacle for any play-off opponent.

Remarkably, McClean’s 57 th minute winner here was the only time that Wales had been behind in any qualification match of this entire campaign but it was still sufficient to ensure that their agonising 60-year wait to play in a World Cup finals goes on.

It could also mean that manager Chris Coleman’s tenure will end. Coleman had previously said that he would stand down at the end of the campaign but he hinted last night at a U-turn that would see him lead Wales into Euro 2020. “I can’t answer right now about my future,” he said.

“I have a dressing room of devastated players; the whole nation will be mourning. There’s a chance I can go on and a chance I won’t. My contract is until the summer. I’ll go back to my family and take a bit of time.”

I n the dressing-room, Coleman had personally thanked the players and told them that they had again “made the nation proud”.

He added: “I am privileged to work with these players. I told them to stick their chest out. When you look at the age of the squad, they will be even better after tonight. You learn from defeats. We will be stronger.”

The use of the word ‘we’ may just have been a slip of the tongue but felt potentially telling. It was not really this unimaginative performance that had been the main problem.

A series of draws from winning positions earlier in the campaign, when Gareth Bale was fully fit, became a missed chance to build on the momentum of Euro 2016 and assert themselves in a difficult but winnable group.

It will surely also be difficult for Coleman to walk away amid such fervour for the Welsh team. The last tannoy instruction to the fans had been to sing the national anthem “like they had never done before” and, with the music deliberately cut off early, they duly obliged.

T here were estimated to be 10,000 Irish supporters in Cardiff and, while only 3,000 of them could get tickets, the noise from each and every corner of the ground was immense.

There was, though, still something unusually stirring about the last few verses of ‘Land Of My Fathers’ as just the voices of 30,000 supporters echoed through the night air. International football certainly still matters when there is something tangible at stake.

The match quickly settled into a distinct pattern. O’Neill’s team were willing to cede possession and territory to frustrate a flurry of early Welsh pressure that they had clearly anticipated.

Chris Gunter, the Wales player of the year for 2017, soon forced a corner and Hal Robson-Kanu did meet Joe Ledley’s cross but directed his header high and wide.

C oleman had predicted that the match would again be physical but, with Wales so dominant in possession, first real sign of the “typically British match” that he anticipated was not until after almost 20 minutes when Joe Allen was cautioned for a late challenge on David Meyler.

Allen’s head then soon became horribly sandwiched between Meyler’s hip and McClean’s body as they competed for a bouncing ball.

Allen was concussed and the Wales medical staff showed good judgment with so much at stake in recommending his immediate substitution.

“If they have targeted him – they have done a good job but there are no complaints from me,” said Coleman, who still acknowledged that Wales had lost much of their rhythm without Allen.

A goalless half-time scoreline left Wales with a quandary in how they approached the second half. They were in the play-offs as things stood but still at the mercy of other matches and, while a win could mean automatic qualification, defeat would equal certain elimination.

Ireland had the simpler task of needing only victory but they were still patient and content to absorb a further series of controlled Welsh attacks, most notably when Robson-Kanu forced Randolph into an acrobatic save.

I t was a pivotal moment as, seconds later, Wayne Hennessey and Ashley Williams conspired to cheaply lose possession inside their own half.

Jeff Hendrick immediately pounced and delivered a cross that was superbly dummied by Harry Arter and allowed to run into the path of McClean.

The entire stadium fell momentarily silent as the outstanding chance of the match loomed but McClean was more than equal to the moment and finished with emphatic precision.

Coleman reacted by replacing Robson-Kanu with Vokes but how he needed the injured Bale on the pitch. There was also then further bad news when it emerged that Croatia had taken the lead against the Ukraine and so even a draw would be insufficient.

Ireland dropped ever deeper in the final minutes but, with Bale looking on helplessly and Shane Duffy colossal, their defence remained impregnable.

James McClean runs to the fans

H e looks for, I think, his family or friends and embraces them in the crowd, before facing everyone else in the Ireland section and screaming “COME OOOONNNNN!”

Time on ball (at full time)

Average touch positions (90 + 7 min)

I RELAND ARE IN THE PLAY-OFFS! Welsh hearts broken but they’ve done it to themselves. The golden generation will have to wait to fulfill their potential.

T here’s a collision by the Irish box, Ireland break, Meyler lunges in late on the goalkeeper with the worst challenge of the game and is booked (he’ll miss the next game now). Can Wales do anything? ANYTHING?

H ennessey comes 40 yards off his line, launches the ball forward and Ramsey controls on his chest, swivels and shoots. but it’s an easy save. Ireland don’t seem too troubled here. The crowd are whistling. the Welsh crowd are eerily silent. McClean barges Williams to the ground and should be booked. but he’s just been booked. the referee doesn’t show a second yellow.

Tom Lawrence hits the free-kick straight out for a throw-in. Dreadful.

R amsey gets in Jonny Williams’ way and is then kicked by McClean. The free-kick is launched, headed away. and then volleyed back at goal! It hits a sea of bodies and the chance disappears. Ireland are defending really well here. Wales just can’t get at them.

F ive minutes of added time. THERE’S STILL TIME! Ireland are taking as much of it as they can to slow things down, Wales are running out.

R amsey takes a corner, it falls to Gunter on the edge of the area. his shot is blocked. Williams turns up at the back post to head from close range. and heads into the ground. Wales haven’t taken their chances here.

M eyler is still breaking things up and making it happen for Ireland. This has been a real captain’s performance and it’s really impressive. Wales have pushed right on the D-pad and are in all out attack. This is the time to go for it – they either score two and reach the play-offs or score one (or none) and stay at home in the summer.

W hat on earth is Ramsey thinking?! Why?! Wales spend all game putting crosses into the box without numbers to attack the ball and have a free-kick about 35 yards out. Too far to shoot, this is where you put it in the mixer.

Ramsey shoots. And it’s awful. About 20 miles over the bar. Ashley Williams is furious.

W oodburn has been one of the best players on the pitch since coming on. he puts in a dangerous cross towards goal, curling at the back post and Hennessey gets down low to stop it hitting the back of his net.

R amsey has been really poor tonight as well – he’s trying to do it all himself and keeps giving the ball away, overrunning it and making the wrong decision. This is a very Arsenal Aaron Ramsey performance.

The Wales fans start singing the national anthem as yet another pointless cross is sent towards nobody in the Wales box. Better is needed in these final 10 minutes. Gunter overruns the ball immediately after I type that.

W ales have all of the ball now and working it into wide areas to cross into the box. This might work if they had more than one player in the area attacking the ball. Every time the ball comes in, it’s cleared – this will not work.

Arter is down injured again, he’ll probably have to come off. Glenn Whelan preparing to come on in his place.

Time on ball (60 – 75 min)

A shley Williams has joined in the attack now. Wales beginning to throw caution to the wind. Woodburn goes on a run and is knocked to the floor but the referee thinks it’s a dive. or something. He gives a free-kick to Ireland even though Woodburn is clearly shoved from behind as he goes on a run into the box.

Serbia have scored against Georgia which means whoever wins this only gets second place in the group.

S am Vokes is about to come on for Wales. Gunter charges down the right, his cross is deflected, Lawrence passes it back to Ramsey. He has space! But Ramsey punts his shot over the bar.

Robson-Kanu makes way for Vokes – that’s Wales’ last substitution. Can they get back into this one? Ireland are playing the ball long and dropping deep. Ramsey takes a knock to the face from Murphy from a flailing arm, but in truth, should have penalised for a foul himself for high feet.

I reland are in full defensive mode now and have dropped deep. Woodburn gets on the ball, Ramsey chips it wide, Gunter puts in a cross but it’s cleared. Ramsey tries to force a chance for a shot. and Robson-Kanu heads over. The tension is starting to build here now. Hendrick is down injured, and has been for a few minutes now. Wales think it’s time wasting.

A shley Williams is given a new shirt but is told to go back off the pitch and wait to be invited onto it. That’s a stupid rule.

B en Davies is now on the floor and looks similarly dazed to Joe Allen earlier on. He takes a couple of knocks to the head as he defends a corner but is OK to continue.

Wales attack, Robson-Kanu runs towards the space but doesn’t get the pass. Davies advances. and shoots from 20 yards. Saved.

S ubsitution: Andy King off, Ben Woodburn on. That’s the gamble!

W hat has happened to Ashley Williams this season? He’s been absolutely dreadful for Everton – his confidence must be shot or something – and I think he’s ripped his own shirt open in rage after giving the ball away for that goal.

Time on ball (45 – 60 min)

GOOOOOAAAAAAAAAL!

R epublic of Ireland break the deadlock and it’s all down to a horrible series of errors by Wales!

H ennessey’s throw to Williams is poor, but the defender’s abysmal attempt at passing it forward is. well. it’s embarrassing. He’s slow, puts it on his wrong foot and doesn’t have a passing option. It’s easy to win the ball off him and Hendrick drives down the right, just keeping the ball in play and sending a great cross into the middle. McClean’s first time volley is an absolutely brilliant finish. Wales shoot themselves in the foot.

W ales miss a huge chance to counter-attack as Arter is caught on the ball and leaves his team short but the forward pass is woeful and hands possession straight back to Ireland.

W ales are passing the ball around more like they did in the first half now. King is dropping into more central positions and that’s definitely helping. Williams runs in down the right, gets the ball and crosses into the middle. KANU IS THERE! What a save by Randolph! Great header from Robson-Kanu but the goalkeeper has reacted superbly there to deny him.

M eyler has been Ireland’s best player tonight, breaking up play all over the park. Arter tries to desperately prevent a counter-attack by sliding on his back and kicking the legs of Welsh player trying to break forward.

Wales have the all in the final third and are crossing it in from wide. Ledley chips in and King attacks but it’s well defended.

The corner is an out-swinger to the near post, Chester heads it and HITS THE SIDE NETTING! Ooooohhhhhhh some of the crowd thought that was in. That could be a catalyst.

I reland start this half better than the first, hurl the ball into box, win the first header. and it ends up in Hennessey’s sweet, sweet goalkeeper arms. Robson-Kanu tries to do a bit too much with the ball and can’t get it out to Gunter on the right, and is surrounded. He senses the counter-attack is dangerous and pulls a shirt to give away a free-kick.

H ere we go. Can the home crowd get Wales through this one? Ireland were in charge by the end. Wales get us started.

Time on ball (first half)

Average touch positions (45 + 2 min)

HALF TIME – Wales 0 – 0 Ireland

W ales totally dominated that, or did until Joe Allen suffered a head knock and had to go off. Ireland are suddenly entirely capable of getting into the game. The second half will be very interesting.

W illiams climbs all over Murphy and gives Ireland a free-kick near the half way line. Ireland get players into the box and will howk this one towards them, probably in the last action of the half.

Brady launches it. but Hennessey claims easily. Ireland sprint back into position and stop the counter-attack in Wales’ half.

The game has quietened down a lot – Wales are nowhere near as fluid without Allen in control of the midfield.

T hat’s Joe Allen sitting on the floor after his head knock.

Christie has been caught out of position, Wales attack down the left. and Meyler comes across to cover. Great defending from the captain, who draws the foul from Davies and wins a free-kick near his own box.

The shot count is similar

W ales have attempted five shots so far, compared to three for Republic of Ireland.

I reland are enjoying their first real spell of possession and are working the ball around nicely. Or they were until Gunter puts the ball out for a throw.

Ward hurls the ball into the area, it comes back out to him and he works space for a low cross, is spun into the air with a clearance that goes wrong. and is behind for a goal kick.

G areth Bale is watching in the stands. Clark gets away with holding Robson-Kanu’s shirt from a Wales corner.

G unter is getting wound up by McLean’s physical style and comes close to squaring up to him as McLean bumps into his back.

Jonny Williams is coming on for Joe Allen. The replays seem to show Meyler’s hip connecting with Allen’s head, and the back of his head then hits the ground. It’s better to be safe, obviously, but Allen has been Wales’ best player so far and will be a huge loss from this game.

M cLean and Meyler sandbag Joe Allen in mid-air as they make him the filling in “an Irish sandwich” which will probably have taken the air out of him. That came out of nowhere and Allen seems a little dazed as he sits on the ground. Wales appear to consider surrounding Meyler and making something of it. but the anger subsides quickly as Meyler protests his innocence.

This could be the end for Allen’s game too! He’s having to go off with a head injury. He’s on his feet and walking around but clearly took a real whack in that aerial challenge. Coleman has decided to take him off! That could change the game.

R obson-Kanu is man-handled as he tries to win a header and the referee lets it go. but then gives a foul for an identical challenge by Gunter on an Irish player. Brady takes the free-kick, Wales don’t clear and Ireland have a chance! Duffy shoots across goal. but it’s wide!

Time on ball (15 – 30 min)

C hristie is late to tackle King, who waits for the challenge and appears to throw himself to the ground. The referee doesn’t feel the need to show a yellow card.

Ramsey swings in another really poor set piece and gives Randolph the ball back. Ireland are growing into this one now.

E nd to end stuff! Jeff Hendrick has a great chance in the Welsh box but they get it clear and counter-attack. Lawrence drives down the left but loses control and gifts possession to Ireland as he nears their penalty area.

Lawrence is at it tonight. He takes the ball to feet and turns in one movement, taking his man out of the game and opening up space to move into. Instead, Lawrence uses that space to take a shot and gets one on target, but without enough direction or power to trouble the goalkeeper.

T he ball isn’t dealt with by Clark from a throw and it rolls loose to Allen on the edge of the box. He goes for a shot as Clark slides in. and it’s a corner. The ball drifts to the back post and Clark deals with it, heading behind for another corner.

Ramsey goes for a short corner and then puts it in the middle with a cross off the outside of his boot. It’s easily dealt with.

Brady comes out on top in a midfield scrap and plays Christie in down the right. He wins a corner with an attempted cross.

D avies is caught late by Brady who kicks his standing leg while trying to nick the ball from behind. The referee lets him off with it, the free-kick is crossed into the middle and ends as a Wales throw-in. That goes backwards and Wales start their passing game again.

J oe Allen is in trouble here. He goes in hard on a challenge with Meyler, trying to launch the ball with a swiped attempt at a volley but catching Meyler’s foot. It’s a yellow, and replays show that’s the right decision. Ireland have a free-kick about 40 yards out, Brady swings it in and it’s knocked out to McClean on the left. He takes it first time and hits a fantastic low cross into the box which is turned behind for a corner.

Time on ball (0 – 15 min)

M ore Wales pressure but Ireland are defending well. O’Neill’s side are trying to push higher up the pitch now.

Wales are dominating the ball so far

W ales are letting the ball do the work – they’ve had 129 touches compared to just 39 for Republic of Ireland.

W ales are taking their time to work the ball forward from midfield, passing around into space to keep moves going. It’s really good football, Allen and Ramsey have been excellent so far. Ireland are pinned back but haven’t really been threatened yet.

W ales are in control of the ball at the moment and passing it around to work their way up the pitch. Ramsey is floating around the midfield looking for space and suddenly finds himself with a chance to shoot as Allen is knocked to the floor. He shoots. and it’s over the bar!

I t’s a corner as apparently Hennessey gets a fingertip to the ball. It comes to nothing.

B rady smiles and laughs as he knocks Ben Davies to the floor, giving away a free-kick. Davies is on his feet and does one of those little stylish schoolyard handshakes with Brady to indicate they’re cool.

I t’s a fast start – the players are pumped. Ireland pressing pretty high up the pitch but Wales get the first meaningful attack together and they win a corner. It’s headed wide.

H ere we go! What a game! What a noise! FOOTBALL!

Ireland get us started.

The national anthems

I reland’s is nice, sung by the few thousand Irish over here to support the team. It comes to an end.

“Sing it like you’ve never sung it before,” says the Welsh stadium announcer man. And oooh baby you better believe they do. The music is faded out during the start of the first verse and the stadium is incredibly loud. What a noise. It crescendos into a Welsh roar.

Home advantage might be a thing here tonight.

Here come the teams

T here’s a fair amount of noise in the stadium. Ashley Williams and David Meyler are staring straight ahead, heads up. It’s nearly time for fitba.

Martin O’Neill thinks it’s going to be action packed

B oth sides have to win, I’m not predicting (a cagey start).

Do you think you have what it takes to win?

Did you know

T hat Ireland’s captain for tonight, David Meyler, is really good at playing FIFA?

H e regularly streams himself playing on Twitch and YouTube and is pretty tidy. Here he is packing himself in Ultimate Team:

A Roy Keane before and after?

You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. But what about if he’s angry. and delighted? And his son is with him?

Chris Coleman says

“With Sam (Vokes) and Hal Robson-Kanu), they’ve done brilliant (sic). Sam was fantastic out in Georgia but Hal gets the nod.

“It’s two sets of players, they know each other, play in the same leagues. We’ve got to play our game, stay focused, the game is 90, 90+ minutes. We’ve got momentum, the players own it and know what they need to know. We KNOW what’s at stake, what we mustn’t do is think about what’s not in front of us.

“We can’t control what’s said, I never talk about what’s happened in the past. well except the 93 generation because that was me and we never got there! This is the new generation, they’re blazing their own path.”

George North gives his support to Wales

— George North (@George_North) October 9, 2017

The warm-ups

Republic of Ireland are out for their pre-match warm-up. #WALIRL pic.twitter.com/r3lfoh48rj

Neil Taylor on the bench

I nteresting decision by Chris Coleman. Neil Taylor, the defender who broke Seamus Coleman with a horrible tackle in the last meeting between these two, has been left on the bench.

Starting lineups

Here’s the official FIFA World Cup qualifying line-ups for #WALIRL here in #Cardiff. #TogetherStronger pic.twitter.com/cVqjuGW63W

Good evening

H ello and welcome to our liveblog covering all the action from this enormous World Cup qualifier. It feels like a derby of sorts, there’s a bit of bad blood between the two, the prize at stake is life changing – things could get feisty. The team news should be in soon but until then, here are the words of the two managers prior to the match.

W ales manager Chris Coleman: “We’re on dangerous ground if we go in with a game plan of trying to soak the pressure up for 90 minutes.

“We are too good to do that. We’ll go and attack, go and score goals. We have to do that – it’s our strength.

“A point may be OK, but we’ll go for three points. That’s the way it’s set up.”

I reland manager Martin O’Neill:

“I think we can win the match. I felt it was always going to be like this. When we get off to a decent start (in qualifying), the mindset changes a little bit in terms of points.

“But if you had said to me right at the beginning when the group was drawn that we’d have to go to Wales and win – and we were down as fourth seeds – I would have taken it. So let’s go for it.”

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8/2/2014 Ireland V Wales Six Nations Rugby Union -Full Match


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