Two Daryl Murphy goals within the opening 19 minutes of this World Cup tie gave Ireland the three points as they now turn their attention to the trip to Cardiff on Monday night where another three points is a must.
Ireland went ahead within the opening few minutes of the game, before Moldova had an opportunity to settle and find their feet at the Aviva stadium. A ball swung in saw Darryl Murphy shoot at goal from inside the box. Despite the best effort of the Moldovan ’keeper to save, the close range effort from the Nottingham Forest man hit off Cebanu and into the visitors’ net.
The Moldovans were unsettled by the early concession and it took 18 minutes before the away side would even get a free kick in the Irish half of the pitch, only for the effort to come to nothing.
David Meyler, named as captain for the night’s international was finding plenty time on the ball as the Moldovans looked somewhat raged as they stood off the Irish captain. Colum O’Dowda, who became the youngest player to start a competitive international game for Ireland in the Martin O’Neill era, had an effort into the side netting after 11 minutes, with Hendrick and Shane Long both involved in the build up.
O’Dowda soon ran the left flank, looked up and picked Shane Long out in the centre. The Tipperary man, who played upfront with Daryl Murphy, tried to place the ball into the side of the net, but his effort was fractionally wide.
Murphy made it 2-0 to the Irish in the 19th minute. Stephen Ward found himself in possession following a long ball out to the left wing. Ward swung it in towards Daryl Murphy, who stretched for the header. His controlled header went right, and beyond goalkeeper Cobanu’s reach to give Ireland a 2-0 advantage.
Moldova’s Sergiu Platica had an effort saved by Darren Randolph in the 27th minute of the opening half, when he drove the ball towards the top right-hand corner. The Irishman made a brilliant one-handed save to maintain a clean sheet, as he did again in the 63rd minute of the match when called to the rescue.
Shane Long looked short on confidence throughout the game as he failed to score from a number of decent opportunities presented to him, especially an effort he sent inches wide of the right-hand post with the goal at his mercy.
Ireland played well along the flanks with good ball being delivered. Christie found himself unmarked a number of times, with pace being shown by Martin O’Neill’s men instead of the usual tactic of hoisting the ball in.
Moldova dominated possession in the early part of the second half as Ireland seemed content to sit back, allow the visitors move it about easily. Despite all the possession, however, they failed to deliver a serious blow to the home side.
In the closing stages of the game Martin O’Neill made changes with Harry Arter replacing Man of the Match Daryl Murphy, Aiden McGeady came on for the impressive Wes Hoolahan, and the largest cheer of the night was reserved for the introduction of Preston North End’s Seánie Maguire as he made his international debut with less than 10 minutes to play. Moldova finished the game with 10 men when Alexandru Gatcan was sent off in additional time for using his head to make contact with substitute Harry Arter.
The Republic of Ireland remains third in Group D on 16 points following last night’s result. The Welsh are one point ahead on 17, while group leaders Serbia, who lost 3-2 in Austria on Friday night, have 18 points.
Republic of Ireland: Randolph (GK), Christie, Clark, Murphy (Arter 77), Long (Maguire 82), O’Dowda, Hendrick, Hoolahan (McGeady 78), Ward, Meyler (captain), Duffy.
Subs not used: Doyle (GK), Elliot (GK), O’Shea, Keogh, Whelan, O’Kane, Hourihane, Hogan, K. Long.
Moldova: Cebanu (GK), Racu, Epureanu (C), Ionita, Gatcan, Dedov (Cociuc 55), Ginsari, Bordian, Platica (Ambros 78), Anton, Rozgoniuc.
Subs not used: Koselev (GK), Pascenco (GK), Graur, Antoniuc, Cojocari, Pascenco, Ojog.
Referee: Bas Nijhuis (NED).
Photos from Brian F Smyth