March 20 2018

Wales Keep World Cup Hopes Alive with Win against Georgia

March 20 2018, 11:38 | Ann Lamb

Kilkenny Soccer: Double delight as Seanie Maguire and Niall Andrews are called up for international duty

2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena Tbilisi Georgia 2/9/2017 Georgia vs Republic of Ireland Ireland's James Mc Clean and Shane Long with Referee Ivan Kruzliak

Coleman said. "The good thing about this is, we've been here before, so we have that experience, as have Ireland, they have been in must win games before too, that's what makes it exciting".

Chris Coleman's men go into tonight's match in a strong position to at least make the play-offs. O'Neill speaks of Seamus Coleman in the same terms and, while his loss may not be as disastrous, the Irish may require an outstanding performance from stand-in right-back Christie.

O'Neill took what seemed like an age to introduce his first substitutes as it wasn't until twelve minutes from time that Aiden McGeady and Harry Arter were called upon to enter the fray, replacing Wes Hoolahan and Daryl Murphy respectively.

If there's any doubt about him starting the game all you need to do is watch a replay of Daryl Murphy's second goal. The Burnley man has looked off-form for the national side for over a year now and surely a change is in order.

'All we can do is prepare for the game, do our work, and come the final whistle of course we will check what's happened.

However the 30-year-old striker hammered wide with the goal at his mercy, cue an aggressive thump of the air from the frustrated number nine. Long always gives 100% but consistent scoring has always been his problem.

It should have been 3-0 on 23 minutes, Long again being deserted by the the finish he needs to end his goal starvation, now a 24-game barren run.

62' - LONG MISS - Hoolahan slips in O'Dowda on the left of him, in the box.

The attacking system O'Neill went for has paid off in the past against the likes of Italy and Austria and it's definitely his best option for the do-or-die game against Wales. David Meyler captained Ireland on Friday and seems likely to retain his place.

While Ireland welcome back Robbie Brady and James McClean after bans, they are still without the injured Seamus Coleman and Jonathan Walters. But they have acquired a focus as the group has progressed. "A couple of early goals against Moldova obviously settled our nerves, which was great, and we went on to win".

Northern Ireland travel to Oslo to play Norway, a nation whose footballing stock has dropped precipitously since the heady days of reaching 2nd in the world over two decades ago.

Meanwhile, Bale's absence is a bonus for Ireland but, after Lawrence's victor in Tbilisi, Wales broke the spell of having not won without the Real Madrid megastar since 2013.

Ireland had an early chance to test the Moldovan defensive when midfielder Sergiu Platica was penalised for a challenge on Hendrick and although the visitors managed to clear the initial free-kick, they were unable to handle the throw-in which resulted from it.

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