World Cup qualifiers: Wales v Ireland

Martin O'Neill's men must win in Cardiff if they want to keep their World Cup dream alive

Patrick Madden Tue, Oct 10
LIVE: World Cup qualifiers: Wales v Ireland

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  • Good evening!

    Welcome to our coverage of Ireland's crunch final World Cup qualifier against Wales, in Cardiff.

    This one doesn't need dressing up.

    Tonight Martin O'Neill's men take on their Celtic rivals needing a win to secure a playoff place, and put themselves two games away from the 2018 World Cup.

    A draw will be enough for Chris Coleman's side to finish second in Group D - but like Ireland they need three points to guarantee a playoff spot.

    A long and winding campaign is about the get the booming crescendo it deserves.

    We'll be bringing you all of the action from the Cardiff City stadium throughout the night - strap yourselves in.

    Come on!!!


    Wales: Hennessey, Gunter, Williams, Davies, Chester, Allen, Ledley, Ramsey, King, Lawrence, Robson-Kanu.

    Ireland: Darren Randolph, Cyrus Christie, Ciaran Clark, Shane Duffy, Stephen Ward, David Meyler, Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Harry Arter, James McClean, Daryl Murphy.

  • O'Neill has made three changes to the side which beat Moldova 2-0 on Friday night. Shane Long was ruled out with a hip injury earlier in the day, while Wes Hoolahan and Callum O'Dowda both drop to the bench.

    Robbie Brady and James McClean return from suspension, with Harry Arter also coming into the XI.

  • The Ireland team has been given as a 4-4-2, with McClean up front alongside Daryl Murphy - but it wouldn't surprising if the West Brom winger adopts a more familiar role wide on the left.

    Hoolahan was excellent on Friday but he's named on the bench tonight - perhaps being protected from what promises to be a blood and thunder clash.

  • As much as the Irish players and management have tried to pretend otherwise, the absence of Gareth Bale through injury is a huge boon for the visitors tonight.

    Chris Coleman has picked five across the middle with Hal Robson-Kanu up front. While draw would see Wales finish above Ireland they really need three points to ensure they make the playoffs.

  • Some pre-match reading?

    You can read Keith Duggan's thoughts from Cardiff HERE.

    And Emmet Malone's match preview HERE.

  • From the start of the qualification campaign it always felt likely tonight's game would be key in deciding the World Cup fate of both nations - and so it's transpired.

    Before the win over Moldova, Ireland were faced with the sobering reality that six points from their final two games might have not been enought to secure a playoff place.

    But thanks to Slovenia - and Scotland - it is now fairly straightforward. The 2-2 draw in Ljubljana means a win tonight would take Ireland above Slovakia in the playoff table, and guarantee them one last shot at a World Cup place.

    Nice and simple then, lads.

  • It's very unlikely, but Ireland could still finish top of Group D - however it would require Georgia getting their first win of the campaign away to group leaders Serbia. A 28/1 chance according to the bookies.
  • 10,000 Irish fans estimated to be in Cardiff today, with an allocation of 3,000. Any spares?
  • 10 mins until kick off!

    How are the nerves?

  • The teams are in the tunnel. Cardiff is rocking.
  • Anthems time.

    A deafeningly loud rendition of Land Of My Fathers.  

  • Right then, here we go. Best of luck lads.

    Ireland, decked out in white, to kick off.


  • 1 min: Boos greet each early Irish touch. Scrappy start. Robon-Kanu tries to beat Duffy on the outside and he's met by a big shoulder, the centre-half forcing an Ireland throw.  
  • 2 min: Meyler turns behind a Ramsey cross - Wales have the game's first corner. Ledley whips it in towards the near post and Robson-Kanu can't keep his glancing header down. Duffy did just enough to put him off.  
  • 4 min: Niggly foul from Brady on Davies on the Welsh left. It's going to be that type of night.
  • 5 min: Wales seeing most of the early possession, with Ireland sitting deep. Crisp passing from the hosts but when Ireland put some pressure on the ball they win it back - McClean with a good challenge on Ramsey.  
  • 6 min: A Welsh cross from the right just evades four red shirts queueing up in the box. Ireland are yet to string a couple of passes together, Wales owning the ball.  
  • 8 min: Tackle on Allen who then brings down Arter - the referee waves play on and Ramsey fizzes a rising effort which Randolph has to tip over. Deep Welsh corner is dealt with by Ireland but it's played straight back to Wales - a poor touch from Robson-Kanu gifting the visitors a goal kick.
  • 9 min: A deep Brady cross is too big for McClean and Murphy. Ireland yet to really settle.
  • 11 min: As expected, Wales passing the ball around nicely. Ireland are sat in their final third and getting deeper and deeper - Meyler having to make a couple of good interventions on the edge to dispossess Allen.  
  • 13 min: Ward half clears a Ramsey ball and it drops for Gunter. His cross is poor but Ward's clearance goes behind for another Welsh corner. Ledley swings it in and it's easy for Randolph at the back post.
  • 15 min: Brady miscontrols a Christie pass in the Welsh half, bringing with it cheers of derision from the home crowd. Meyler nips in ahead of Allen who swings at the Ireland midfielder with a wild leg and gets the game's first booking.

    Deep free kick for Brady - it's headed as far as Meyler on the edge. Meyler slips in McClean whose first time cross is turned behind for a corner by Williams - great ball. Wales clear the corner.

  • 19 min: Brady goes through the back of Davies on the far side - Ireland scramble the resulting free kick clear.  
  • 20 min: Brave from Allen, shooting from the edge with Clark sliding in and earning a corner. Deep Welsh corner and Clark flicks it behind for another. This time Wales work it short before crossing, but Randolph easily gathers.

    Ireland could do with a spell of possession - but they are already resorting to aimless long balls.

  • 22 min: Lung busting run from Christie on the right, overlapping Brady and earning a throw. He launches it into the box and the ball falls for Hendrick, but his scuffed effort is blocked. It takes Wales a while to get it clear but they break down the left through Lawrence, whose low cross is cleared by Clark.  

    There hasn't been a single goal anywhere in Europe yet.

  • 26 min: Christie leaves one on King on the left. Soft free kick for Wales - but Ramsey curls it into the arms of Randolph. For all their dominance, Wales are yet to carve out anything clear cut.
  • 28 min: After his dream night on Friday Murphy is cutting a very lonely figue so far here. He's had nothing to feed off at all.
  • 30 min: A free kick for Ireland just inside the Welsh half - meaning it will be pumped long into the box. It's towards Duffy and headed down. Clark shows neat feet and finds his centre half partner on the right - but he drags a low shot-come-cross well wide.
  • 32 min: Allen gets sandwiched between McClean and Meyler and takes a hip to the head. Meyler gets a talking to - he was never going to pull out there.
  • 34 min: Allen is ambling off in a bit of a daze - the physios tell the Welsh bench he needs to come off. Big blow for the hosts.
  • 35 min: Wales are down to 10 men for the time being but they aren't allowing Ireland a kick. Jonathan Williams comes on for Allen.
  • 38 min: Brief opening in the Irish box - King runs onto a knock down and Duffy has to intervene. Welsh cross into the box and Clark nearly turns it into his own goal. Ledley's corner finds its way to Davies at the back post but his shot on the bounce goes miles over.
  • 41 min: Finally some possession for Ireland, they string together more passes in one passage of play than they have managed in the whole game. Ward launches a long throw into the Welsh box, but then can't beat the first man with a follow-up cross. Ireland yet to create anything but they have steadied the ship.
  • 42 min: Good play from Meyler on the far side, drawing a foul from Davies.

    In Belgrade, Serbia and Georgia are still goalless. Can't see tonight's highlight packages being particularly thrilling.

  • 44 min: Ireland have taken the sting out of this now. Murphy draws a foul from Williams inside the Welsh half.

    Deep ball from Brady - but it's too easy for Hennessey.

  • 45 min: Another spell of Irish possession and Clark angles a long one up to Murphy. He flicks it on for Brady who cuts onto his left and shoots - but it's easy for Hennessey at his near post.
  • A pretty dismal 45 minutes, but after a poor start Ireland have started to get a foothold in the game.

    O'Neill should bring on Hoolahan sooner rather than later.

  • Still 0-0 at half time in Belgrade.
  • Wales doing team photos wrong again.
  • The teams are back out for the second half. A fairly big 45 minutes coming up...
  • 46 min: Another raking free kick from Brady up to the Welsh box. Duffy wins the header under pressure, and then another, but Wales clear comfortably.
  • 48 min: Ramsey has the chance to slide through Robson-Kanu but there's a miscommunication and the West Brom striker comes short rather than running into the channel.  
  • 50 min: Brady cuts inside from the right but can't quite engineer the shot and the ball runs away from him - Arter fouling Lawrence as he lunges for the loose ball. Up the other end Ramsey slides it to Ledley who crosses first time and Clark does well to flick it clear.
  • 51 min: Welsh corner from the right and Chester gets there ahead of his man but his header finds the side-netting. A pocket of the crowd thought it had gone in - including Coleman.
  • 53 min: Great save Randolph. Good play from Wales up the right and Williams finds Robson-Kanu in the box - but his header is tipped over by the Irish 'keeper. Davies can't keep his header down from the resulting corner, good spell for Wales.
  • 54 min: Brady squares the ball to the edge and Brady goes to ground. Ireland want a free-kick but the referee waves play on. It's getting a bit spikier.


  • JAMES MCCLEAN!!! Hendrick puts pressure on Williams and pick pockets the Welsh captain, before driving past Davies down the right and crossing to the edge, where McClean thrashes the ball home after a neat dummy from Arter. Huge moment, huge goal.  


  • 60 min: There's a defiant rendition of Land Of My Fathers in Cardiff but that goal has stunned the crowd. The Ireland end went absolutely beserk when it went in.
  • 62 min: Long ball downfield for Murphy to chase and he shoots first time, forcing a corner off the covering Ashley Williams. Clark wins the header fron Brady's delivery but can't get enough purchase on it. The referee stops play after Davies gets a knock to the head.

    Still 0-0 between Serbia and Georgia.  

  • 64 min: Ramsey tries to slide in Robson-Kanu but the Irish defence read the pass. It comes back to Davies on the edge but he dithers and Duffy throws himself in front of the shot which Randolph then smothers.

    Second Welsh change, Ben Woodburn on for King.

  • 66 min: Wales in a bit of trouble here, Ireland are sitting but Duffy and Clark have proven inpenetrable thus far. Plenty of ball for the hosts without creating anything clear cut, the Robson-Kanu header aside.
  • 68 min: Patient Welsh build-up but it's all a bit narrow. Duffy makes one big header away before Robson-Kanu heads well over.

    Croatia are beating Ukraine 1-0 which means Wales have to win in order to get a playoff place.

  • 70 min: Wales pressing and Lawrence lays it off to Ramsey but he sidefoots it miles over the bar. Hendrick down getting treatment and Whelan primed to come on - but the Burnley man decides he can continue.  

    Change for Wales, Sam Vokes on for Robson-Kanu.

  • 72 min: Murphy harshly booked after catching Ramsey in the face.  

    Serbia have finally broken the deadlock in Belgrade and the Red Star Stadium has gone bonkers.

  • 75 min: Lawrence crosses towards Vokes and Duffy gets across with another towering header. Randoph spills the ball but picks up the pieces before any red shirt can react.
  • 76 min: Arter limping off with what looked like cramp, Glenn Whelan coming on.
  • 79 min: Clark shown a yellow card for a bit of time wasting. We've reached that stage of the game.
  • 80 min: Very dangerous ball from Woodburn towards the back post, but nobody can get a touch and Randolph holds on for dear life. It's a bit flat in Cardiff now - you get the impression the home supporters know their goose is cooked.
  • 83 min: Soft foul from Duffy, climbing on Vokes. Ramsey is over the ball - but it's a fair way out - and he blasts it over.

    Ireland are nearly there.

  • 85 min: Welsh pressure and the ball pings around the Irish box - but it just won't fall for the hosts and in the end Ward wins a free kick under pressure from Gunter.
  • 86 min: McClean chasing a ball down the left but Chester does well to stride across and win it back for Wales. Meyler turns a cross behind - Welsh corner.
  • 87 min: Duffy heads it clear, before Whelan thrashes clear the follow-up cross.
  • 88 min: Slight panic for Ireland, Ledley whips in a first time ball and it drops for Jonathan Williams at the back post - but Ward hacks it clear.
  • 88 min: Brilliant cover from Meyler, turning the ball behind for another Welsh corner, which Ireland clear. A long ball back into the box goes for an Irish goal kick.
  • 91 min: Kevin Long coming on for Murphy, who is taking his time to get off the pitch.
  • 92 min: McClean gets booked for catching Ramsey with a high foot. Welsh free kick from Gunter is headed out to the edge where Davies' half volley is cleared.
  • 94 min: Opening for Woodburn in the box but his touch is very heavy and Ireland clear. The ball is pumped back into the Irish box and Ramsey shoots but it's comfortable for Randolph.
  • 95 min: Stupid from McClean, barging Jonathan Williams over with the ball rolling harmlessly towards the touchline. Luckily for him, Lawrence's free kick goes out for a throw-in on the opposite side.
  • 96 min: Meyler fouls Hennessey as the goalkeeper looks to sweep up and he earns a booking.


  • Whatever you think of the football, there can be no doubting the resilience and bottle of this Ireland side. Time and again they produce it in the big games.
  • Right then, thanks for joining tonight. Ireland's World Cup dream is still alive - we'll find out who Martin O'Neill's men will face in the playoffs when the draw is made on October 17th.

    Enjoy the night!!|