Ten-man Wales claim vital World Cup qualifying win but Republic of Ireland’s struggles against minnows continue March 31, 2021 – Posted in: Soccer
Wales got off the mark in their World Cup qualifying campaign as they claimed a vital 1-0 win at home to the Czech Republic.
The winner came via the head of Dan James as he nodded in Gareth Bale’s cross from the left in a bad-tempered Cardiff clash.
Both sides were reduced to 10 men as Connor Roberts and Patrick Schick saw red in separate second-half incidents.
Schick was dismissed after tangling with Roberts three minutes after the restart, an incident which saw the Swansea wing-back booked.
Roberts collected his second caution 13 minutes from time after catching Tomas Soucek in the face during an aerial challenge, which the West Ham midfielder ensured caught the attention of Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan.
Wales quickly recovered from that setback as Gareth Bale crossed from the left after 81 minutes, and James’ downward header beat the despairing dive of Czech goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik for his fourth international goal.
The same can’t be said for the Republic of Ireland though, with manager Stephen Kenny without a win in his first eleven matches in charge.
James McClean scored his first international goal for three-and-a-half years but they could only manage a 1-1 draw to Qatar.
McClean fired Ireland, who were out to restore pride against the World Cup hosts at the Nagyerdei Stadium in Debrecen after Saturday’s desperate qualifying defeat by Luxembourg, into a fourth-minute lead which they preserved until Mohamed Muntari levelled two minutes after the restart.
A 1-1 draw at least left Kenny’s men with something to show for a desperately disappointing international break, during which their hopes of making it to Qatar next year were dealt a potentially fatal blow, and the manager will hope something to build upon during a nine-day training camp in June.
A more experienced side than he was able to field against either Serbia or Luxembourg showed greater energy against technically adept and mobile opponents but once again were ultimately unable to defend a lead, something upon which they have prided themselves in the recent past.