Republic Of Ireland 3-0 Wales: Gibson, Duff & Fahey Strikes Ensure Gary Speed's First Game Ends In Miserable Nation's Cup Defeat
A lackluster showing from the Welsh failed to have any effect on the game
By Sam Bisby
Gary Speed's Wales career got off to a bad start after losing 3-0 in the first game of the Nation’s Cup against the Republic of Ireland.
After a first-half that offered nothing, the second session gave the game another dimension with goals from Darron Gibson, Damien Duff and Keith Fahey as Ireland easily dominated Speed’s side.
Giovanni Trapattoni was without star striker Robbie Keane after he withdrew from the match due to a calf injury he sustained whilst playing for his new team West Ham United at the weekend. Another of Ireland’s Premier League men, James McCarthy, did not feature in the game at the request his manager, Wigan’s Roberto Martinez, as the midfielder has only just come back from a long standing injury.
'Trap' 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 game in charge of the national side. Withdrawals have also hit the short-term Sheffield United manager’s plans for the game, losing key players such as Aaron Ramsey, David Edwards and Ched Evans.
After the obligatory national anthems and general international formalities, the Nation’s Cup got underway with Glen Whelan getting the first chance of the game offering a weak effort to the Welsh 'keeper Wayne Hennessey.Wales struggled to get a hold on the game in the early stages and persisted in giving away free kicks close to their penalty area. Ireland were finding it relatively easy to get in between their defence and were able to create opportunities, but lacked the positional awareness to follow through on any attacking move.
After 20 minutes of play neither team looked as though they were going to be scoring any time soon as both were falling short of showing any signs of attacking prowess, with even the midfield battle failing to offer any respite in a game suffering as a result of this poor football.
Seamus Coleman almost had a moment to regret on his international debut after he brought down Simon Church in the penalty area. Some slight contact seemed apparent, but wasn’t enough evidence for the Irish referee, who wasn’t in the best position to start with.
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 out, which skidded across the ground neatly for club team-mate Hennessey to collect.
As the first-half came to a close, it was evident that the visitor’s were lacking the firepower needed to test Ireland. Wales’ only attempt came in stoppage time as Church was able to shoot from the edge of the Irish area which tested Manchester City’s Shay Given.
A late Irish attack succumbed to the game’s poor attacking qualities and both sides went into their respective dressing rooms with nothing to show.
The second-half looked to offer more as the first few minutes had brought nearly as many chances as the first-half did as a whole. Shots from Duff and Jonathan Walters looked to threaten Hennessey’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.
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 Duff lost his footing whilst pulling off his shot which struck the hands of a waiting Wayne Hennessey, who pushed the powerful shot away.
On 60 minutes Darron 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 the ball.
Just seven minutes later it was Damien Duff getting his name on the score-sheet with his first goal in nearly five years for the 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 goal-scorer to hit it home from close-range.
A clinical free-kick from Keith Fahey gave the home support something else to celebrate 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 Hennessey and into the bottom corner of the goal.
A weak showing by the Welsh gives Gary Speed a good and intimidating idea of the challenge ahead of his new career.
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