Ireland down Moldova to set up Wales showdown
World Cup Qualification UEFA Group D, Ireland 2 (Murphy 2, 19) Moldova 0
Daryl Murphy’s first-half brace was enough to see Ireland beat Moldova 2-0 and keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup.
Murphy broke the deadlock after seizing on a flicked-on long throw after just two minutes, and made it two before 20 minutes were out.
In a short spell, Murphy had tripled his international goal tally in the first half, and given Ireland a shot at qualification as they chase Wales and Serbia.
Republic of Ireland's striker Daryl Murphy (L) celebrates scoring their second goal with Republic of Ireland's midfielder Callum O'Dowda (R) during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Republic of Ireland and Moldova at the Aviva SGetty Images
In the second-half, Ireland and Moldova both seemed content to limit exertions and play towards a comfortable Ireland victory. The home side were planning for their trip to Wales on Monday, when they have chance to leapfrog over the second-place side in Group D.
The win moves Ireland on to 16 points, one behind Wales in second and two behind leaders Serbia, who lost 3-2 to Austria.
Serbia are guaranteed a top two finish but it is all to play for in the final round of fixtures, with Serbia, Ireland and Wales all capable of winning the group.
Do Ireland have the quality to trouble Wales? While Wales are without Gareth Bale, Ireland struggled to create except from long balls and crosses. Moldova offered little going forward, but in attack Ireland showed that if Wales can maintain their defensive discipline they should be able to keep them at arm's length.
Republic of Ireland's striker Daryl Murphy (C) celebrates scoring their second goal during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Republic of Ireland and Moldova at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on October 6, 2017.Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Callum O'Dowda (Republic of Ireland): At just 22, O'Dowda showed the promise that suggests that he could be one of the next stalwarts for the Republic of Ireland. He might still play in The Championship, but his technique and running from deep could soon earn him a move to the Premier League, where he would gain the experience to make a difference at international level.
Moldovia's midfielder Alexandru Gatcan (floor) challenges Republic of Ireland's midfielder Callum O'Dowda (L) during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Republic of Ireland and Moldova at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on October 6,Getty Images
2' - GOAL! Ireland 1-0 Moldova. Murphy scores - A long throw from the left wing is flicked on at the near post, and Murphy is on hand to stab home. What a start!
11' - O'DOWDA SHOT - Ireland have Moldova camped back in their own half, and O'Dowda cuts onto his left foot to drill at shot at the near post which goes just wide.
19' - GOAL! Ireland 2-0 Moldova. Murphy scores - A long crossfield ball finds Ward, he picks out Murphy's run into the box, and he loops a clever header back from where it came and just inside the far post.
27' - PLATICA SHOT - Platic leathers a volley at goal, and Randolph is on hand to fly to his right and tip it away from goal.
62' - LONG MISS - Hoolahan slips in O'Dowda on the left of him, in the box. He takes a touch, and his shot is deflected to Long, and he has an open goal to shoot at that drifts just a few inches wide.
90+2' - RED CARD! Gatcan and Arter come together on the halfway line. The two of them have a small exchange of views, and Gatcan headbutts him for no obvious reason and has to go. A stupid decision.
Shane Long has not scored in 237 days.