Belfast Telegraph

Nations Cup: Republic of Ireland and Gibson have Wale of a time

Republic of Ireland 3 Wales 0: A Darron Gibson inspired Republic of Ireland drew first blood in the inaugural Carling Nations Cup with a comfortable win over woeful Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

It was meant to be the beginning of a new era for Gary Speed but his first game in charge ended in typical Welsh disappointment on a dreary and cold night.

After a nondescript opening half, Londonderry born Gibson opened the scoring in the 60th minute with his first international goal before Damien Duff doubled the home side's lead six minutes later from close range.

As the Irish took a firmer grip, substitute Keith Fahey drove a 25-yard free-kick past Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey to compound Speed's misery.

Stoke midfielder Glenn Whelan had the tournament's first effort on goal after two minutes, but his delicate chip from the edge of the box cleared the bar.

Moments later Duff came closer with curling effort from the left which almost deceived Hennessey and appeared to clip the woodwork before going wide, but a decent start soon subsided and there was little in the way of Celtic passion.

Wales, conservative and constrained, grew in confidence as they slowly felt their way into the game, but there was still no clear-cut chance at either end.

On the half-hour mark Wales’ Robert Earnshaw was fouled clumsily by debutant Ciaran Clark 25 yards from goal but the Wales striker drove the resultant free-kick over the bar.

Five minutes later Kevin Doyle threatened for the first time when he drove at the Wales box before unleashing a low drive from 20 yards, but Hennessey just stood his ground and gathered.

Chris Gunter came on for Neal Eardley at the start of the second half and Reading striker Shane Long replaced Doyle.

The second period was only four minutes old when Jonathan Walters fired in a drive from the edge of the box but again Hennessey was perfectly placed to gather while Long had the chance to make a quick impact when he was set up by Duff 16 yards out, but blazed the ball over the bar.

The deadlock was eventually broken on the hour mark and in some style when Manchester United’s Gibson picked up a pass from Whelan before rifling an unstoppable shot from 20 yards high past Hennessey.

Duff made it 2-0 in the 66th minute after Gunter had carelessly been robbed by Walters on the byline.

The cutback was missed by Long and landed at the feet of former Chelsea and Newcastle player Duff and he buried it from 10 yards out.

The game appeared over as a contest but it became increasingly disjointed as both sides rang the changes.

In the 82nd minute, after Walters had been fouled by Collins 25 yards from goal, Fahey — on earlier for debut boy Seamus Coleman — drove the free-kick past the helpless Hennessey to confirm a good night's work for Giovanni Trappatoni’s men.

Belfast Telegraph

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