McClean fires Ireland to World Cup play-off with vital victory in Cardiff

Posted October 10, 2017

Republic of Ireland fans took over the streets of Cardiff as they prepared to cheer on their national side in the crucial World Cup qualifier against Wales on Monday evening.

Ireland finished the campaign with 19 points, two behind Serbia, who beat Georgia 1-0 to clinch top spot and an automatic place in next year's finals.

We could go top in the event of an unlikely Serbian defeat.

"We are too good to do that". Yet it was clear that they would have to attack more purposefully after the interval and it was a beautifully taken goal that changed the complexion of the match.

After the ninth round of games, only three groups outside of our own remain of interest to us. That's the way it's set up.

No. Serbia are guaranteed a top-two position and therefore one of Wales and Ireland will miss out.

"It's a tough ask for Georgia to win there", he says, asking his players to draw on the experience of big wins to get the victory in Cardiff.

The match will be under much scrutiny not only because of the high stakes.

'We have to try and contain our excitement because we've always wanted to be in these games where everything is on it'. "We were all absolutely devastated at what happened".

It was the Celtic striker's fourth goal in his last five Scotland games and had the "Tartan Army" of travelling fans believing in the dream of reaching the finals, being held in Russian Federation next year, for the first time in two decades.

Martin O'Neill has called upon his players to summon up their big-game spirit and book the Republic of Ireland's place in the World Cup play-offs.

Group G: Italy 1 (Chiellini 40) drew with Macedonia 1 (Trajkovski 77); Liechtenstein 0 lost to Israel 1 (Tibi 21); Spain 3 (Rodrigo 16, Isco 24, Alcantara 27) bt Albania 0.

Although Long is out, James McClean and Robbie Brady return from suspension. "And there was a lot of Faroese fellas working out the calculations and coefficients telling me that it was between us and Wales".

A loss means Wales will finish third.

"A team without Gareth Bale is better for us", Duffy said.

"They had a couple of long-distance shots, but I felt we were comfortable and we dealt with everything".