Ireland v Wales

Martin O'Neill's men meet Gareth Bale and co in Dublin for a crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier

Patrick Madden Fri, Mar 24
LIVE: Ireland v Wales

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  • 18:50

    Good evening!

    Welcome to our coverage of Ireland's crunch World Cup qualifier against Wales, live from the Aviva Stadium.

    It's been a fine qualification campaign for Martin O'Neill's men thus far, and tonight they look to reclaim top spot in Group D from Serbia, who are 3-1 up in Georgia with a few minutes to play.

    Things are bubbling away nicely at Lansdowne Road, promises to be a cracker.

    Come on!!!

  • 18:50
  • 18:56
    Full time in Georgia - 3-1 to Serbia, who leapfrog Ireland into top spot.
  • 18:58
    It's been a gorgeous day in Dublin today, the first real beer garden weather of the year. But it's safe to say now it is absolutely baltic - there'll be a few travelling Welsh who've been drinking in the sun all day who will be in for a bit of a shock.  
  • 19:09

    The teams are out warming up at the Aviva.

    No real surprises in O'Neill's line-up tonight, and despite well documented injury problems he's been able to field the same XI which started the qualification campaign in Serbia - with Robbie Brady the only absentee from that 2-2 draw.

    James McCarthy didn't feature in Belgrade but he's fit to start tonight in what looks like a three-man midfield with Glenn Whelan and Jeff Hendrick.  

  • 19:10
  • 19:14

    As for the visitors, well, Gareth Bale starts. Ken Early has written about his role as Wales' undisputed technical leader - you can read that HERE.


  • 19:23

    You could eulogise about Bale all night - he's one of the world's five best players - but while any hopes Wales have of reaching Russia rest on his shoulders, the Galactico is ably supported by a decent supporting cast.

    Aaron Ramsey has rarely hit the same heights he did for Arsenal in the 2013/14 season but his form hasn't waned in a Wales shirt, while the likes of Joe Ledley and Joe Allen also seem to play beyond themselves when on international duty.

    That said though, stopping Bale will be half the battle tonight.

  • 19:25
  • 19:29
    Filling up nicely, 15 mins until kick off.
  • 19:30
  • 19:33
    Robbie Savage might not think much to Ireland's back four - but Wales look vulnerable as well, and Shane Long can cause plenty of havoc down the channels.  
  • 19:34
    James McClean wearing number five tonight in tribute to Derry City's Ryan McBride, who died last Sunday.
  • 19:36

    ***TEAM NEWS***

    There's been a late change to Ireland's starting line up - McCarthy doesn't start, David Meyler does - more on that as we get it.

  • 19:36
    DaveM First time Wales have been able to put this team out since.....they beat Belgium in Euro quarter final. Must win game for them, not matter what Coleman says,
  • 19:37
    McCarthy cronked in the warm-up by the looks of things.
  • 19:37
    Here come the teams, the Aviva crackling now.
  • 19:41
    And now time for the anthems.
  • 19:43
    It's loud. Let's have it.
  • 19:46
    There'll be a minute's applause now for Ryan McBride, Ray Brady and Milo Corcoran.
  • 19:46
    It's not often the Aviva is rocking like this. Everyone's well up for it.
  • 19:47

    Ireland to kick off.


  • 19:48
    1 min: Coleman gets the ball on the right flank and pumps it up to Long. Williams wins the header and the ball breaks for Whelan in the pocket, but he skews a left-footed half volley high and wide.
  • 19:50
    2 min: Robson-Kanu making a nuisance of himself on the left and O'Shea is across to make a good tackle. Welsh throw and a good spell of possession follows - until Ward catches Gunter late. No booking but Bale is over the free kick from the right touchline.
  • 19:51
    3 min: Bale's ball is headed as far as Ramsey who lofts it towards Williams at the back post but Randolph is there to claim.
  • 19:52
    4 min: Meyler gets pick-pocketed in midfield and Wales break - but McClean tracks back to take it off Bale's toes with an excellent tackle. That got the crowd going.
  • 19:53
    5 min: Wales keeping the ball well in the middle of the park. Ramsey looks to play in Gunter on the right but overcooks it.
  • 19:56
    7 min: First real glimpse of Bale. He picks it up on the right and carries it across the box and gets on the outside of Coleman on the left. He tries to stand one up for Robson-Kanu at the back post but it drifts out for a goal kick.
  • 19:57
    9 min: Wales have looked much the better side when in possession - Ireland too happy to pump it up to Walters, who is yet to get the better of Davies in the air.
  • 19:57
  • 19:59

    10 min: Now Ireland string a few passes together and this time Walters nips in ahead of Williams and flicks it on to Long. Williams clattered Walters after the ball and Ireland have a free kick.

    Whelan curls it towards Keogh at the back post but he's all over his man and Wales are awarded a free kick of their own.

  • 20:00

    12 min: Walters does well to flick a ball behind at the back post with Taylor lurking. First corner of the game to Wales.

    Ledley's delivery doesn't beat the first man and it's headed out for anorher corner, which Ireland clear.

  • 20:03
    14 min: Ireland under the cosh a bit here - every time the ball is cleared it's straight to a red shirt. A deep ball is swung into Ramsey who nods it down for Taylor in the box - vital clearance from O'Shea. Ireland need to try and get on the ball, Allen and Ramsey are dictating things at the moment.
  • 20:04

    16 min: Wales harrying and pressing well off the ball - Ireland resorting to angled balls up to Long.


  • 20:06
    17 min: Good pressure from Long on the right sees him bully Davies off the ball. He cuts it back to Walters who goes down under a challenge from Stoke City team mate Allen - and he's told to get up pretty swiftly.
  • 20:07
    As an aside, it took just 17 minutes for a proper football atmosphere to be ruined by the Viking Clap.
  • 20:08

    19 min: First opening for McClean on the left but he cuts inside and is quickly crowded out. He gets a second bite of the cherry though and draws a foul from Ramsey.

    Free kick in a good position for Ireland. McClean's ball can't beat the first man though and Meyler blazes over from the edge.

  • 20:08
  • 20:11
    22 min: Wales entirely comfortable in possession in midfield. Boos for Bale every time he touches it - not sure that's going to work, lads. Stunning ball from Bale towards Taylor at the back post but the bounce is too big for him and it fizzes for a goal kick. Great vision.
  • 20:13
    24 min: Great physicality from Robson-Kanu, beating Keogh to a long ball. He tries to play in Gunter but McClean is back well to hook it into touch.
  • 20:14
    25 min: Good tracking from Long and he turns it behind for a Welsh corner. It's swung towards Williams and Chester at the back post and Randolph flaps at it - but wins a free kick in the process.
  • 20:15
    27 min: Every green shirt camped back in the Irish half as Wales knock it about. Good tackled from Ward on Bale on the left forces an Ireland throw-in.
  • 20:17
  • 20:18
    30 min: Better build-up from Ireland - Hendrick finally seeing a bit of it - and he plays in Long on the edge. Long goes down but the ref says no foul and Wales break down the right through Bale. He checks back inside and Ward is across well to snuff out the danger.
  • 20:20
    31 min: That's better. Lovely from Long who plays in Hendrick on the edge, but there's just too much on the return ball and Hennessey snuffs out the danger.
  • 20:22
    33 min: Long, as ever, chasing after every aimless long ball. He harries Taylor on the left and forces an Irish throw - which is turned behind for Ireland's first corner. It's a good delivery and the ball drops in the box, but there's plenty of red shirts on hand to clear.
  • 20:24
    35 min: Ledley looks for a raking ball to Taylor on the left but Walters tracks and heads it for a throw.
  • 20:25
    36 min: Ireland nearly get themselves in bother in their own box but the ball is scooped over three red shirts and they break through Walters and then Hendrick. Ireland then lose the ball and it's played to Bale on the indie left channel in plenty of space - but he dithers and Coleman gets a vital tackle in.  
  • 20:26
    38 min: Welsh corner from the left and it's swung towards Williams but Ireland clear. Long putting pressure on Gunter who just about manages to head it to safety from halfway.  
  • 20:27
    39 min: Jeers of derision as Bale lines one up from miles out which never threatens Randolph's goal.
  • 20:27
  • 20:29
    41 min: It is perishing at the Aviva now. Can see scores of Welsh fans in short sleeves. Williams down after he gets checked late by Long.
  • 20:30
    42 min: Good ball from Ramsey to Gunter on the right and his low ball is blocked by Ward, who gets his feet in a tangle before clearing.
  • 20:31
    43 min: Coleman surges down the right and goes down under pressure from the tracking Ramsey. Nothing doing though - Wales have snuffed out the threat of Coleman well so far.
  • 20:33
    44 min: Allen gets to a bouncing ball just ahead of Whelan and goes down like a sack of spuds. Bit of Stoke on Stoke to end the first half - replays showed there was a hint of an elbow.
  • 20:33
  • 20:36

    You'd be doing well to put together a highlights package from that opening 45 minutes - a classic it is not.

    In the other Group D game Austria are drawing 0-0 at home to Moldova. At least we're not in Vienna.

  • 20:48

    Ireland are back out for the second half. Things can only get better.

    Looks like there's on change for Wales - Sam Vokes on for Robson-Kanu.

  • 20:48
  • 20:49
    45 min: Early booking for Meyler for an elbow on Ramsey.
  • 20:51

    46 min: Best chance so far. Raking Bale ball to Taylor at the back post and he nods it down to Ramsey in the box but his touch is poor.

    Uh oh. Irish foul in Bale territory...

  • 20:52
    47 min: Good strike from Bale, over the wall and dipping, but it's straight at Randolph.
  • 20:54
    48 min: Yikes. Bale has the ball on the edge of the final third and goes on his right and then shifts it back onto his left before fizzing one half a yard past Randolph's left hand post. 'Keeper was beaten there.
  • 20:55
    50 min: Hendrick has the ball on the right and looks to force a corner but his cross is dealt with by Chester. Wales break and Bale crosses from the right but the header is well wide.
  • 20:57
    51 min: Bale to take a long throw from the left and Meyler clears. It's back to Bale who plays in Taylor on the overlap and he wins a Welsh corner. Ramsey swings it in and Ward does excellently to flick it clear under pressure from Bale.
  • 20:58
    53 min: Vokes does well to nod a long ball down to Ramsey who cuts inside but his tame shot is straight at Randolph. All Wales at the moment.
  • 20:58
  • 21:01

    56 min: Ward in acres of space on the left and he slides in McClean who gets to the byline and pulls it back. Wales turn it away as far as Ramsey who catches Whelan in the face as he looks to hook it away.

    Ireland free kick in a dangerous spot, 30 yards out and to the left of the D. McClean drills it into the wall and there's a bit of panic in the box until the flag goes up for offside.

  • 21:02
    58 min: Space for Bale and he looks for Taylor in behind again but massively overcooks the pass.
  • 21:04
    59 min: Brilliant flick from Long and Walters is in - but Williams just nicks it off his toes and it's out for a corner. The ball is swung towards Long and ricochets off Keogh and out for a goal kick. Ireland's best spell of the half.
  • 21:06

    60 min: More bustling from Long on the right and he turns it inside to Walters, who goes down after Allen has a nibble at his ankles. Another dangerous free kick for Ireland, level with the edge of the box on the right.

    McClean thumps it into the wall again. Ireland keep Wales penned in though and Keogh flicks a Coleman cross to the edge where Long drags his shot wide.

  • 21:07
    Somebody has let the world's worst brass band into the Aviva tonight.
  • 21:08
    63 min: Bale releases Gunter down the right and he cuts it back to Taylor who forces it back into the box to Vokes, but he can't hook his shot towards goal and it flashes wide. A reminder from Wales there.
  • 21:09
  • 21:10
    66 min: A long spell in possession for Wales. Ramsey clips it towards the back post and Walters is covering. His header is into the back of Taylor but loops kindly into the arms of Randolph.
  • 21:12
    67 min: Bale steams in and cleans out O'Shea, earning a booking for his troubles. He went through O'Sheas studs high there.
  • 21:12
    RED CARD WALES!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 21:13
    68 min: Taylor has been shown a straight red for a very rash challenge on Coleman, who looks in serious, serious trouble.
  • 21:13
  • 21:15
    Ireland players urging the stretcher to hurry up - looks like a broken leg. Desperate luck for the Ireland skipper who is carted off. He's replaced by Cyrus Christie.
  • 21:16
    72 min: Whelan loops the free kick towards Keogh at the back stick where he's penalised for climbing all over Gunter.
  • 21:18
    73 min: What a chance! Hennessey punches a cross as far as McClean on the edge and his first effort is blocked. The ball then falls onto his right boot and his second effort is deflected inchges wide. Ireland well on top now.
  • 21:19
    74 min: Ireland pressing and they have another corner on the left. Whelan goes short to McClean who cuts onto his right and shoots - it's deflected for another corner. Whelan's second delivery is a shade too close to Hennessey who claims.
  • 21:21

    75 min: The momentum has really shifted now, Ireland sense Wales are there for the taking. Christie launches a long throw into the box and Hennessey gathers well.

    Christie then clatters Bale in the air, giving Wales a free kick in a dangerous spot in the inside left channel. Good delivery from Ramsey but Ireland clear.

  • 21:22
    77 min: Lightning break from Ireland and the brilliant McClean. His cross is behind the runners but it comes back in from the right and skims off the top off Long's head and out for a goal kick. Fractions.
  • 21:23

    79 min: McClean tugs Gunter back on the left, Welsh free kick from the touchline. Aiden McGeady is on for Meyler.

    Wales move it across the pitch to Allen and his ball from the left floats behind.

  • 21:23
  • 21:25
    80 min: Long nicks it off Chester but it's a good recovery from the Welsh defender who hooks it out for a throw. Good work from Christie sees him force a corner on the right which is headed clear.
  • 21:26
    81 min: Sustained Ireland pressure and McClean puts in a good cross from the right which is well cleared by Chester. Wales try to break down the right through Bale but he's dispossessed. Wales can't get out, Ireland won't get many better chances than this.
  • 21:27
    83 min: Bale catches McClean in the midrift, giving a way a free kick and nothing more. He needs to be careful.
  • 21:29
    84 min: And there's Bale. He picks up a loose ball near halfway and carries deep into the Irish half, cutting onto his left and fizzing one fractions past Randolph's right hand post. Almost stunning. Almost.
  • 21:29
    85 min: McGeady cuts inside onto his right and has a go but it's always rising.
  • 21:31

    87 min: Minutes to go and the ground is still packed - nobody's going home just yet. Loose from Christie and Randolph can't prevent a Welsh corner.

    Ramsey swings it towards Bale on the penalty spot but he can't steer his header inside the near post.

  • 21:32

    88 min: Ireland break and McGeady's ball from a  arrow angle is turned behind for a corner. Whelan's delivery is too close to the 'keeper though.

    McClean a deserved man of the match.

  • 21:34
    89 min: Walters flicks on a long Christie throw but it doesn't fall for a green shirt. The ball is crossed and Hennessey spills it - but again there's no green shirt there to capitalise.
  • 21:34
  • 21:35
    91 min: Ireland running out of time and Wales sitting very deep.
  • 21:38
    92 min: Ireland seeing all the ball and building patiently. McGeady jinks on the touchline and crosses to Long at the back post - his header is blocked in front of Hennessey. The ball bounces around the box but Wales clear - frantic finish.
  • 21:38
  • 21:51

    Right then, thanks for joining tonight. A useful point for Ireland, who are now second to Serbia in Group D on points difference. Fingers crossed Seamus Coleman's injury isn't as bad as it first looked - would be desperate if it's serious.

    Emmet Malone's match report from the Aviva will be along shortly - I'm off to try and warm up.