Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales: James McClean sent off for hosts as Ryan Giggs’ side go four points clear at the top of their Nations League group
- Ireland had five players ruled out as one tested positive for Covid-19 beforehand
- Kevin Long came off mid-way through the first-half with an eye injury
- Wales felt they should have had a penalty when Randolph collided with Ampadu
- Both teams struggled to create many chances throughout the encounter
- Wales sit top of their Nations League group four points ahead of Finland
Forget the spread of Covid-19, this stalemate is reason enough to scrap international football for the time being.
All of the drama was confined to the hours before kick-off and news of Ireland losing five players after one of their squad tested positive for coronavirus.
The unnamed player was deemed to have been a close contact of John Egan, Callum Robinson, Alan Browne and Callum O’Dowda, and that quartet have been forced into self-isolation.
James McClean was left furious late on in the game after receiving two yellows in four minutes
The draw means Wales are four points clear from Finland who still have a game in hand
They are likely to miss forthcoming club matches and that will add volume to those calling for international matches to be suspended amid the global pandemic.
Ireland’s latest Covid-related setback comes after strikers Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah were forced to miss last Thursday’s Euro 2020 playoff defeat in Slovakia having sat too close on the team’s aeroplane to a member of staff who later tested positive.
However, in a statement released before this game, the FAI claimed that test result may have been a ‘false positive’.
Stephen Kenny had issues before the game with five of his players withdrawn from the team
At least, then, there were plenty of plot twists away from the actual football.
Some goalless draws are laced with intrigue. This wasn’t. It means Ireland are yet to win a Nations League game in seven attempts, scoring only twice.
They also lost James McClean for Wednesday’s trip to Finland after he was sent off after picking up a second yellow card for a lunge on Ethan Ampadu late on.
McClean was sent off after 83 minutes for a foul on Wales defender Ethan Ampadu
Things nearly boiled off following the red card as tensions heated up late in the match
Republic of Ireland (4-3-3): Randolph; Stevens, Duffy, K.Long (Christie 25), Doherty; Hendrick, Hourihane, Molumby (Cullen 90); McClean, S.Long (Maguire 74), Brady (Horgan 73)
Subs not used: Travers, Kelleher, Cullen, Bryne
Red card: McClean
Wales (4-4-1-1): Hennessey; Davies, Rodon, Ampadu, Roberts; James (Brooks 77), Morrell, Smith (Levitt 67), Wilson (N.Williams 68); Ramsey; Moore
Subs not used: Gunter, J. Williams, Cabango, Roberts, Matondo, Ward, Davies, Norrington-Davies, Vaulks
Booked: Moore, Morrell
For Wales and manager Ryan Giggs they remain unbeaten in this season’s competition – and top of League B, Group 4 – but their 100 per cent record is gone.
The lack of intensity was evident from the off. Indeed, Ireland’s defence made no attempt to feign urgency, stroking the ball around with little meaning at the back.
The Wales forwards presumably tasked with pressing them instead played the part of passive spectator.
It was a sedate Sunday afternoon stroll for all involved, albeit a pleasant one beneath the autumn sun. But it was painful for everyone else.
Club football has adapted to the absence of supporters in stadiums. It has found a way to entertain. To excess, at times.
This, by contrast, was everything you feared at the onset of behind-closed-doors football. Saying that, Ireland have been just as uninspiring in front of fans in recent times.
In three years of competitive matches they have scored 11 times from 19 matches. Under new boss Stephen Kenny it is one goal in nearly seven hours.
Yes, there is improvement with Kenny in terms of ball retention and possession in the final third, but there was still just one shot on target.
The first half brought one effort worthy of record from either side.
Shane Long had a good opportunity to score in the but failed to score with a header at goal
Republic of Ireland had the better of the possession but struggled to create chances
Wales forward Harry Wilson saw a measured curler tipped around the post by Darren Randolph, while Robbie Brady tried something similar at the other end but his calculations were out and the ball zipped wide.
Shane Long last scored for Ireland four years ago. You could see why by the manner in which the Southampton striker headed over when unmarked from eight yards on 55 minutes.
There were other flutters of momentary promise – Ireland substitute Daryl Horgan saw a header blocked and he blazed over from the rebound – but it was pretty sober stuff on the whole.
In fact, it left you in need of a stiff drink.
Kevin Long battles with Kiefer Moore for possessions shortly before he received an eye injury
Robert Brady shoots on goal for Ireland but the hosts failed to find the back of the net
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