Republic of Ireland 3-0 Wales: Gibson, Duff & Fahey strikes ensure Gary Speed's first game ends in miserable Nation's Cup defeat
Lackluster showing from Welsh
By Sam Bisby
After a first-half that offered nothing, the second gave the game another dimension with three goals from the home side and plenty of action at the Welsh end as Ireland easily dominated over Speed’s side.
Trapattoni was without star striker Robbie Keane after he withdrew from the match due to a calf injury sustained whilst playing for his new team West Ham United at the weekend. Another of Ireland’s Premier League men, Wigan's James McCarthy, did not feature in the game at the request of manager Roberto Martinez, as the midfielder has only just come back from a long standing injury.
The team’s Italian manager showed his willingness in playing a younger squad with this game to give the national side’s less experienced players a chance at international level, with such players as Everton’s Seamus Coleman and Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark getting their first full call-ups.
The game was new Wales boss Gary Speed’s first in charge of his national side. Withdrawals had also hit the short-term Sheffield United manager’s plans for the game, losing key players such as Aaron Ramsey, David Evans and Ched Edwards.
The game, and first of the Nation’s Cup, got underway with Glenn Whelan getting the first chance of the game offering a weak effort to the Welsh keeper Wayne Hennessy.
Both teams failed to get the game going after this attempt, with Wales especially lacking to put together any attacking initiative.
Coleman came close to making a bad start to his international career when the young midfielder looked to have brought down Simon Church in the area, but nothing was given by the referee.
Kevin Doyle offered the crowd the game’s first proper attempt on target. The Wolves striker smartly dribbled his way around the Welsh defence just outside the area and let a weak shot off from about 18 yards, which skidded across the ground neatly for club team-mate Hennessy to collect.
Ireland followed that chance with a clear cut attempt for a goal in the first-half’s dying minutes. A free-kick from the right was passed short to Coleman, whose soft chip into the area found Clark with the space to comfortably get his head on the ball, but his effort was just wide of the mark.
Not up to Speed | Former Leeds man suffers heavy defeat in first game
The second-half immediately offered the spectators more in terms of goal action. Shots from Duff and Jonathan Walters looked to threaten Hennessy’s goal and new addition to the half, Shane Long, should have made more of his first involvement in the game with an effort close to the target, but skied the ball over.
Duff was in the action once more 10 minutes into the half after Long knocked the ball into the empty Welsh box, luckily going through the legs of James Collins on the way, but the Fulham man lost his footing whilst pulling off his shot which struck the hands of a waiting Hennessy, who pushed the surprisingly powerful shot away.
On 60 minutes Gibson finally put the game into gear with his first ever goal for Ireland. After a nice interchange with Whelan, the Manchester United midfielder did what he does best and fired the ball from 25-yards out, straight past the Welsh keeper who had no chance in even getting a hand to it.
Just seven minutes later it was Duff getting his name on the score-sheet with his first goal in nearly five years for his national side. Naive defending from Chris Gunther led to the ball being snatched by Walters, pulling it back for Long who passed it on for the midfielder to hit it home from close-range.
A clinical free-kick from Keith Fahey had the home support something else to celebrate for as an entertaining second-half came to its conclusion. Set-up around 20 yards from goal, the Birmingham midfielder lifted the ball over the Welsh wall and fell nicely out of the reach of Hennessy and into the bottom corner of the goal.
A weak showing by the Welsh gives Speed an idea of the challenge ahead of his new career, with no wins in their European Championship group; it will be an uphill struggle for the squad to find any positive moments anytime soon.
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Republic of Ireland
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