Rep of Ireland 2-0 Moldova: Daryl Murphy double keeps World Cup hopes alive
By James Kilpatrick
Last Updated: 07/10/17 11:40am
Two first-half goals from Daryl Murphy kept Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualification hopes alive as they beat Moldova 2-0 on Friday.
Murphy's second (2) and third goals (19) in 30 caps mean Martin O'Neill's side must now beat Wales in Cardiff on Monday night - live on Sky Sports Football - if they are to secure a place in the play-offs.
Moldova grew into the game in the second half, but their lack of quality in the final third offered little threat to Ireland.
ROI: Randolph (7), Christie (6), Duffy (6), Clark (6), Ward (7), Hoolahan (6), Meyler (6), Hendrick (7), Murphy (9), O'Dowda (7), Long (5)
Subs: Arter (6), McGeady (6), Maguire (6)
Moldova: Cebanu (6), Bordian (6), Racu (6), Epureanu (6), Rozgoniuc (5), Ionita (5), Anton (5), Gatcan (3), Platica (7), Dedov (6), Ginsari (6)
Subs: Cociuc (7), Ambros (6)
Man of the match: Daryl Murphy
Alexandru Gatcan's straight red card for a bizarre headbutt in injury time summed up Moldova's frustration as the Republic enjoyed a comfortable win in Dublin.
The hosts took the lead in the second minute. Stephen Ward's long throw into the box was nodded on by Shane Duffy to Murphy, who volleyed home from close range.
Shane Long could have doubled the lead in the 16th minute when he collected Callum O'Dowda's reverse pass, but his effort skidded narrowly wide of the post.
Jon Walters (knee) is injured while James McClean and Robbie Brady were both suspended. Jeff Hendrick, Callum O’Dowda and Daryl Murphy all entered the starting XI in their places.
Long's goal drought, which has gone on for 23 games for club and country, continues as his effort in the 22nd minute was blocked by Ilie Cebanu in goal before his rebound was cleared away. But Murphy ensured the Republic went into half-time with a two-goal cushion after meeting Ward's cross to score with a looping header.
The Republic dropped off in intensity in the second half as Moldova attempted to push further forward. The visitors attempted numerous crosses into the box, but it mostly made for catching practice for Darren Randolph.
Long missed another glorious chance on the hour mark. O'Dowda's blocked shot landed at the feet of Long, who simply had to prod the ball into the empty goal, but instead fired his effort wide.
The game ended in embarrassment for Moldova in injury time as Gatcan fouled substitute Harry Arter, before attempting to headbutt the Bournemouth midfielder as the Republic cruised to victory.
Martin O'Neill: "We got off to a great start with a goal early on. We spurned a couple of chances before Murphy made it 2-0. Second half we maybe took our foot off the pedal but most importantly we won the game and it sets us up for Monday night.
"It's pretty interesting but we'll go over there, and we know what we have to do. Win a game in Cardiff."
Man of the match - Daryl Murphy
Murphy had an evening to remember with his two goals overshadowing the performances of Shane Long and Callum O'Dowda, who were also given opportunities to impress.
His two goals proved decisive for Republic of Ireland, who recorded a much-needed win on a night where Wales also won.
- After losing against Serbia in their previous home game, Republic of Ireland maintained their record of having not lost back-to-back home games in competitive action since 1972 (a run of three defeats).
- The Boys in Green have kept six clean sheets in their last eight competitive home games, conceding just two goals in this run (one each against Austria and Serbia).
- Daryl Murphy netted the first brace of his senior international career, having scored just once in his previous 28 games for Republic of Ireland.
- Republic of Ireland have scored four goals in the opening five minutes of games in 2018 World Cup qualifying; the most of any European team.
Republic of Ireland end their World Cup qualification campaign at Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium on Monday, live on Sky Sports Football & Sky Sports Main Event. Moldova face Austria in their final Group D clash.