Belfast Telegraph

Republic stars are fired up for crunch showdown after workmanlike success

Rep of Ireland 2 Moldova 0

By Damian Spellman

Daryl Murphy and Callum O'Dowda reflected on a job half done as the Republic of Ireland kept their World Cup qualification hopes alive with a 2-0 victory over Moldova.

Murphy marked his 30th cap with his second and third goals for the Republic, who sit two points behind Group D leaders Serbia and one behind second-placed Wales. A win in their final fixture in Cardiff should at least guarantee them a play-off but Murphy had not been underestimating the task in front of them in Dublin last night.

He said: "It's such a big game to score two goals and win 2-0. We kept a clean sheet, you can't ask for any more, really.

"You always need an early goal and to start off well in a game of this magnitude. We knew what we needed to do, we needed to score early and see it out.

"We always knew that we needed to win this and we look forward to the next one. It's massive, there's everything on it, really. What we need to do now is rest and recover and make sure we're all ready."

Murphy has not often shown his best form in a Republic jersey but was happy to reward Martin O'Neill's faith in him with two early goals. The Nottingham Forest striker added: "I knew when the manager named the team and picked me, he's put a lot of faith in me throughout the years I've been in the squad and I just thought I had to repay him."

Bristol City winger O'Dowda admitted the pressure was on the Republic to deliver after Wales' victory in Georgia earlier on.

After his first international start, he said: "We knew what we needed to do before the game, I think it was quite obvious, and I think you could say the pressure was on us when Wales beat Georgia.

"We performed and I thought it was great. The boys are looking forward to Monday now and hopefully we can take the form into it."

Moldova ended the game with 10 men when Alexandru Gatcan was given his marching orders in injury time for thrusting his head towards substitute Harry Arter in an off-the-ball coming together.

After losing against Serbia in their previous home game, the Republic maintained their record of having not lost back-to-back home games in competitive action since 1972.

And they have now kept six clean sheets in their last eight competitive home games.

Ulsterman O'Neill's team have also scored four goals in the opening five minutes of games in 2018 World Cup qualifying - the most of any European team.

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