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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 2 July, 2020


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Hello! And welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of tonight’s Uefa Nations League clash between Ireland and Wales.

Saturday’s 0-0 draw was a tough watch for many, with Denmark enjoying 61% possession and the lion’s share of chances. Ireland had just one (one!) shot on target throughout the 90 minutes, but there were at least a few positives to take from the stalemate.

Martin O’Neill’s side looked solid at the back and succeeded in recording their first clean sheet in seven games. Following that dismal 4-1 defeat in Cardiff last month, back-to-back draws away to Poland and at home to Denmark have eased the pressure on the Irish management set-up.

Tonight Ireland will look to exact revenge on Ryan Giggs’ men for that awful, deflating loss in Wales at the start of September. With Gareth Bale, Ethan Ampadu and Aaron Ramsey all ruled out, it is the perfect opportunity to go out and snatch an important win.

Callum Robinson Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Following a month of off-field contraries which include WhatsApp leaks, bust-ups with Roy Keane, Harry After temporarily walking away and Declan Rice still deciding on his international future, Saturday’s draw against Denmark did not inspire a huge amount of confidence.

The Aviva Stadium was eerily silent for large sways of the game and the lack of action or attacking threat from the Boys in Green was a real cause for concern. All of this has led to some suggestions that the Irish public is perhaps beginning to lose faith with the national team.

Therefore a win tonight, or at the very least a more encouraging performance, is paramount as Ireland prepare for Euro 2020 qualifiers next year. Stick with us for the ride, kick-off at the Aviva Stadium is coming up in just over an hour at 7.45pm!

Let’s get started with the team news…

So, this evening’s teams will line out as:

Ireland: Darren Randolph; Richard Keogh (captain), Shane Duffy, Kevin Long; Harry Arter; Matt Doherty, Cyrus Christie, Jeff Hendrick, James McClean; Callum Robinson, Aiden O’Brien.

Subs: Colin Doyle (GK), Sean McDermott (GK), Derrick Williams, David Meyler, Shaun Williams, Alan Browne, Shane Long, Sean Maguire, Enda Stevens, John Egan, Conor Hourihane, Scott Hogan.

Wales: Wayne Hennessey; Connor Roberts, Ashley Williams (captain), James Chester, Ben Davies; Joe Allen, Matthew Smith; Tom Lawrence, Harry Wilson, David Brooks; Tyler Roberts.

Subs: Danny Ward (GK), Adam Davies (GK), Chris Gunter, Jazz Richards, Andy King, Sam Vokes, Ben Woodburn, Declan John, Joe Rodon, Gwion Edwards, Kieron Freeman, George Thomas.

Okay, with 45 minutes to go before we get underway, how do we see tonight’s Nations League encounter unfolding in Dublin? It can’t be bad as that 4-1 in Cardiff. Well, hopefully.

Poll Results:

Draw written all over it (210)
Ireland win (200)
Wales win (157)

Some pre-game reading material ahead of kick-off:

An interesting line-up chosen by Martin O’Neill this evening. He makes two changes from the side which drew with Denmark on Saturday, with Callum Robinson and Aiden O’Brien being named up front together — Shane Long and Callum O’Dowda making way.

Long is named on the bench following a frustrating 90 minutes at the weekend where the Southampton man received little service in the final third and was a lone and isolated presence. O’Dowda was brought off at half-time against Denmark after picking up a knock. He is, alongside Ciaran Clark, ruled out of tonight’s game completely. 

Callum Robinson during the warm up Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Cyrus Christie picked up the man of the match award for his display on Saturday and retains his place in midfield, with Matt Doherty and James McClean once again deployed as wing-backs.

Elsewhere it’s as you were –  a strong, if ever so slightly experimental line-up from O’Neill, as Ireland play a 3-5-2 formation for the third game in a row. The system has been largely successful so far, particularly at the back where Shane Duffy, Kevin Long and Richard Keogh have been an impressive trio.

As per usually it will be at the other end of the pitch, in the goals department, where Ireland will need to find a break tonight if they are to secure a first Nations League win. Against a depleted Wales side you do get the sense that Ireland simply cannot afford to sit back again tonight, and must go for it, command the game and snatch an important win.


“I want them to be positive, to be confident on the ball. Show the crowd you can play, take the game by the scruff of the neck. Go, in possession of the ball, go and be comfortable. Actually go and enjoy it.” — That is Martin O’Neill’s message to his players tonight.

Roy Keane before the game Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane pictured before kick-off.

Unlike Saturday’s 0-0 against Denmark, it does seem like the Ireland boss is intent to go out and command the game tonight. Without Christian Eriksen it did seem like a win was there for the taking at the weekend. However Ireland were very flat and — until the final 15 minutes — failed to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. Fingers crossed that changes here tonight with all of Gareth Bale, Ethan Ampadu and Aaron Ramsey absent.

Touts and all tonight.

Ah lads, the Welsh national anthem is actually class. The away supporters are in fine voice for a rendition of Old Land of My Fathers as it booms around the Aviva. And now here comes Amhrán na bhFiann. We’re moments away!

Flag 6Mins

KICK-OFF: We’re underway at Lansdowne Road for the first half!

Ireland and Wales stand for the National Anthems Source: Gary Carr/INPHO


An even enough opening spell here as both sides enjoy possession and get a feel for the ball. A momentary chant of “Come… on… you… Boys in Green!” rings round the Aviva Stadium, before falling away. A decent crowd tonight, but it’s not a sell-out.


Some good play by Callum Robinson sees Ireland wriggle their way into the box. The ball is cut back dangerously into the path of Jeff Hendrick in an advanced position, but James Chester recovers in time to intercept and usher the ball out from the back calmly.


More good work down the opposite flank sees James McClean fly down the left wing and offer a low cross, which is booted clear for a corner kick. All of Shane Duffy, Kevin Long and Richard Keogh go up for the set piece, but Duffy’s initial header is easily dealt with. A positive start from Ireland.

Harry Wilson and Matthew Smith with Cyrus Christie Wales' Harry Wilson and Matthew Smith with Cyrus Christie. Source: James Crombie/INPHO


Chance! So close for Ireland as Wales easily give the ball away right in front of goal. Matthew Smith was the guilty man, with his loose touch snapped upon by Cyrus Christie. The Fulham defender had a free shot at goal, but after opening up his body and curling an effort towards the bottom corner, he could only watch as Wayne Hennessey recovered just in time to palm the ball away. An excellent, excellent save.

Cyrus Christie reacts to a missed chance Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Shane Duffy has a lucky escape at the other end. The Brighton centre back tried to bring the ball out wide right in front of his own goal, only for Tom Lawrence to close down with a snappy interception. It could have spelled danger, only for the Welsh winger to handle the ball with his block and be penalised by Dutch referee Björn Kuipers.


Kevin Long receives the game’s first booking. The referee shows the Cork defender a yellow card for a rash challenge from behind on Tom Lawrence. There was no real malice in the challenge, but it was sloppy and poorly timed from the Burnley man.


Very nip and tuck with 20 minutes on the clock. Christie’s chance one on one was the closest either side has come to breaking the deadlock and, in fact, it’s been the game’s only shot (on or off target) so far. That may sound grim, but it’s as many shots on target as Ireland had after 90 minutes on Saturday. We’re improving lads.


A viking thunderclap reverberates around the Aviva now as the atmosphere builds and builds. This is a lot more enjoyable than Saturday, but no breakthrough as of yet. Wales enjoying plenty of possession lately, but Shane Duffy is doing a really good job to nullify the threat of Ben Davies and Lawrence down that left-hand side.

Martin O'Neill Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Now Ireland are beginning to enjoy a bit of the ball. Callum Robinson finds a pocket of space just inside Wales’ half which he takes advantage of, sprinting with intent. It looks like an attack might have been on, but Giggs’ men are doing a very good job at containing any threat and forcing possession back from the wings all the way to the halfway line where Harry Arter and Jeff Hendrick are sitting.


Ben Davies is the second man in the referee’s book. The left back lunged for a loose ball and in the process nicked the ankle of Harry Arter. Davies says the ball was there to be won, but he is shown a yellow card nevertheless.

Harry Arter and Tom Lawrence Harry Arter and Tom Lawrence of Wales. Source: James Crombie; ©INPHO/James Crombie/INPHO


A first real chance of the game for Wales as Tyler Roberts tests Darren Randolph at his near post. The Leeds forward did well to peel away from his man, but his low strike at goal was right at Randolph and easily gathered.


Shane Duffy with another header. The Brighton centre back is always a serious threat from set pieces and he did really well there to rise highest and head towards goal. His effort had plenty of power behind it, but once again it was right at the goalkeeper as Wayne Hennessey catches on his goal-line.

Shane Duffy with Tyler Roberts Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO


Shot! Callum Robinson lines up a shot from right on the edge of the box, but Matthew Smith throws himself into the way with a brilliant block. It was a really promising passage of build-up play from Ireland to set the Preston man up.


Ah bless, Aaron Ramsey has had twins!


A lot of comparisons being made with Tom Mohan’s U19s side who secured a brilliant 2-1 win over Holland earlier today. Again the lack of attacking intent seems to be a point of contention with the senior team today. It has been a good bit better than the 0-0 against Denmark, it has to be said, but not a million miles better. Still goalless as stoppage time approaches.


There will be one minute of stoppage time to come at the end of the first half.


Well, what did we make of that? Another tough 45 minutes, but you have to admit it’s been a lot better than Saturday’s drab 0-0 with Denmark. Chances have once again been few and far between, with Cyrus Christie’s gifted opportunity from close range the closest either Ireland or Wales have come to breaking the deadlock. More action to come shortly!


A decent start to the second half from Ireland as Martin O’Neill’s men plough forward. James McClean gets a bit of success down the left flank but his dangerous, inviting cross is snatched by Wayne Hennessey who dashes from his line.


A decent start to the second half from Ireland as Martin O’Neill’s men plough forward. James McClean gets a bit of success down the left flank but his dangerous, inviting cross is snatched by Wayne Hennessey who dashes from his line.


McClean also picked up a booking for a foul on Harry Wilson, who was dashing through midfield. The Stoke City winger will now miss next month’s game away to Denmark in Copenhagen.


Shane Long is beginning to warm up on the touchline now. The Southampton man will make his introduction any moment now.


Substitution for Ireland: Shane Long replaces Aiden O’Brien.

Shane Long and Lasse Schone Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO


A good chance for Wales now as Ryan Giggs’s men earn a free-kick right on the edge of the box. Harry Arter is the man that’s penalised for Ireland as the Cardiff midfielder slide tackles Harry Wilson dangerously.


GOOOOOOOAL!!! Wales take the lead at the Aviva Stadium and it’s a brilliant free-kick from Harry Wilson. The 21-year-old Derby winger takes command of the set-piece right on the edge of the box and curls it superbly into Darren Randolph’s top corner. Ireland are behind with half an hour remaining. Some finish.


Substitution for Ireland: Sean Maguire replaces Callum Robinson.

Sean Maguire Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


The travelling Wales supporters are in fine voice now as they sense a big away win in their midst. Ireland are looking for an immediate response but so far nothing is really coming. Sean Maguire will look to make an impact off the bench. He joins Shane Long up front for the final half an hour.


It was a serious effort from Harry Wilson. Top bins from the 21-year-old.


Jeff Hendrick is on a one man mission to draw Ireland level here. Firstly he twists and turns a host of Wales bodies to deliver a cheeky chipped cross into the danger zone. That was dealt with, only for the Burnley midfielder to have his own go at goal — Hendrick opened up his body and let fly with a powerful right-footed effort, but it was right at Hennessey. Either side of the goalkeeper and it would have been a cracking goal. A much better response from Ireland.

Jeff Hendrick and Joe Allen Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Wales pressing forward in search of a second. Tyler Roberts delivers a dangerous cross towards the back post, but it floats well over the head of Wilson — who was unmarked and calling for possession. Twenty minutes remaining.


Shane long is shown a yellow card after coming together with Ben Davies. The left back did well to intercept James McClean’s low cross aimed towards Sean Maguire — Long came in after it, with his foot meeting the foot of Davies as both contested for possession. The Southampton man went down looking in a bit of pain, but the referee has little sympathy and shows him a booking.


Almost, almost a second for Wales as Ireland are at sixes and sevens at the back. Harry Arter’s pass is intercepted on the edge of the Welsh box and it’s an immediate counter-attack. Wilson has a go at goal just inside the box, but a deflection and a James McClean clearance ends the danger.


Substitution for Ireland: Scott Hogan replaces Kevin Long.


Another attack for the visitors. Tom Lawrence drifts inside and curls an effort towards the corner of Darren Randolph’s goal. It’s inches wide of the target, and Ireland breath a sigh of relief.

Cyrus Christie and Tom Lawrence Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


And another. Ireland are all over the place at the back and just cannot stem the tide of Wales attacks, time after time. Tyler Roberts commands possession with his back to goal on the edge of the box. He swivels smartly to carve himself enough space to offer a shot at goal — but it’s a poor effort which balloons wide of the post.


Giggs’s side have done really well to take advantage of the chaos caused by all of Ireland’s changes. Maguire, Hogan and Long have all come on over the last 15 minutes and they are all trying to bed into a new system immediately with three strikers up front. As they try and ease into the game Roberts, Wilson and Lawrence bomb forward time after time. They really should have a second, but Ireland still go in search of an equaliser.


Chance! Sean Maguire leaps like a salmon to meet James McClean’s lofted cross into the box, but the Preston striker’s effort is easily caught by Wayne Hennessey. Seven minutes to go or Ireland face the prospect of Uefa Nations League relegation.


Substitution: Chris Gunter replaces goalscorer Harry Wilson for Wales.

Harry Wilson celebrates scoring with fans Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO


Shane Duffy wanders forward late on here. He has a go at goal from range, but his shot flies well and truly over the crossbar. The pass was on to James McClean over to the left, and he let’s Duffy know his frustration. It was wasteful from the defender there.


Substitution: Andy King replaces David Brooks for Wales.

Harry Arter with David Brooks Source: Gary Carr/INPHO


Late chance for Ireland as a long throw-in into the box is not dealt with properly. The ball bounces everywhere and anywhere following a flick-on from Shane Duffy, but no-one can get their foot to it. No Irish shirt on hand to boot it into the back of the net, and Wales survive.


Another attack from Ireland as Shane Long lobs the ball into a promising position for Scott Hogan. He tries to curl the ball into the box for Sean Maguire, but the Aston Villa man’s effort flies over the bar. It’s just been that kind of an evening for Ireland — nothing has come off.


There will be four minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the second half.


Shot! Ireland pen Wales back before Shane Long tees the ball up for James McClean. He swings a left boot at it, but the angle is not ideal and the shot flies right at Hennessey, who dives and gathers. Ireland desperately pressing for an equaliser here, throwing everything put the kitchen sink. The drama!


A corner for Ireland and there are seven Irish bodies in the penalty area, but Jeff Hendrick’s cross is caught by Hennessey, who has had his work cut out for him over the last 20 minutes or so. Just a minute remaining.

Ireland almost concede a second against the run of play, but Darren Randolph produces a brilliant low save with his left boot. Ireland offer one last attack at the other end and earn a corner, but a final effort from the edge of the box is hoofed over the crossbar. No goal and that should be that.

Well, there we have it. Another disappointing night for Ireland as Wales secure a 1-0 win in Dublin thanks to Harry Wilson’s excellent free-kick after 58 minutes. Once again Martin O’Neill’s men found it difficult to find a breakthrough, and after Wilson’s opener Ryan Giggs’s men could easily have added more.

Ireland went in desperate search of an equaliser late on, but Wayne Hennessey stood firm to keep his clean sheet in tact. It’s a deflating result and one that will really sting for a while. Thanks for joining us tonight, you can read Paul Dollery’s full match report here and Paul Fennessy’s player ratings here. Cya!

About the author:

Aaron Gallagher


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