Saturday 24 February 2018

Player Ratings: Daryl Murphy and Stephen Ward best on show as Ireland brush off Moldova

Daryl Murphy, second from left, of Republic of Ireland celebrates with team-mates, from left to right, Shane Long, Shane Duffy and Stephen Ward after scoring his side's first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Moldova at Aviva Stadium, in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daryl Murphy, second from left, of Republic of Ireland celebrates with team-mates, from left to right, Shane Long, Shane Duffy and Stephen Ward after scoring his side's first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Moldova at Aviva Stadium, in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

A brace from Daryl Murphy gave Ireland a 2-0 win over Moldova in Dublin as Martin O'Neill's side head to Cardiff on Monday with everything to play for. Here's how the players fared:

Darren Randolph - A brilliant first half save from Sergiu Platica was a highlight for the Middlesbrough stopper, who was vocal in his marshalling of a defensive line that needed to retain their focus in the face of fleeting Moldovan attacking bursts. Randolph will have a big role to play in Cardiff on Monday night - 7

Cyrus Christie - He didn’t show enough attacking intent to push Moldova on to the back foot, with Stephen Ward a more useful outlet for Ireland on the other side of the field. Seamus Coleman’s replacement is still a work in progress at international level - 6

Shane Duffy - A threat from set-pieces when he made his way forward, Duffy will have a more significant role to play when he comes up against a more ambitious attacking team in Wales on Monday night. He held firm against Moldova and covers for the occasional lapses in concentration Clark can offer up - 7

Ciaran Clark - The Newcastle defender was not tested in this game, but he was still caught out on one occasion as Moldova threatened and he will need to ensure his focus does not waver in what is sure to be an intense atmosphere against Wales - 6

Stephen Ward - The Burnley defender is in fine form at club level and he took that confidence onto the international stage with a dynamic display that included a fine cross to set up Daryl Murphy’s second goal. Once viewed as a weak link in the Ireland side, Ward is not one of the first names on Martin O’Neill’s team-sheet - 8

David Meyler - A proud night for this experienced performer as he was handed the captain’s armband at the Aviva Stadium, he never lets Ireland down and was rock solid once more at the base of the midfield. He may have usurped Glenn Whelan as first choice for this pivotal role in O’Neill’s line-up - 7

Jeff Hendrick - Ireland might have expected more from a player whose attacking influence was lacking. In good form for Burnley this season, O’Neill will be hoping for a match winning display from one of his Premier League regulars in the decider against Wales - 6

Callum O’Dowda - The Ireland management team appear to have a soft spot for this Bristol City midfielder and he turned in a hard working display that lacked a little invention. It is hard to imagine O’Dowda starting against Wales when James McClean and Robbie Brady will return to the Ireland midfield - 7

Wes Hoolahan - The presence of the veteran Norwich midfielder in O’Neill’s starting line-up for this game suggests he has no intention of playing him in Cardiff on Monday, as he has long stated his belief that he cannot play back-to-back games in quick succession. His pass in the build-up to Murphy’s second goal was a work of art, but this was not his most influential display - 7

Shane Long - Without a goal since February 11th for Southampton, Long is desperately lacking in confidence and his performance in this game confirmed as much as he missed a clear opening in the second half and appeared to play with hope rather than expectation before he was replaced late on - 5

Daryl Murphy - Murphy had to wait more than nine years to score his first international goal after his Ireland debut back in 2007 and this was undoubtedly his greatest night in a green jersey. Two well taken first half goals were worthy of celebration, with his looping header a classy finish from the in-form Nottingham Forest striker - 9

Substitutes:

McGeady for Hoolahan (79 mins) - The Sunderland star offered up a familiar leg jig as he threatened to put a cross in after his late arrival into the game, but he didn’t have enough time to impress - 6

Arter for Murphy (79 mins) - O’Neill may be tempted to start with Arter in Wales, as he could offer midfield stability alongside Hendrick and Meyler - 6

Maguire for Long (83 mins) - A proud moment for Maguire as he made his Ireland debut, but he needed longer on the pitch to make an impact - 6

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