08.02.2011 at 19:45
Republic of Ireland
3 - 0
Carling Nations Cup / Prog-match
Statto:Marc Wilson, Ciaran Clarke and Seamus Coleman make their first senior international start;
110th cap for Shay Given; 40th cap for Kevin Doyle; 25th cap for Glen Whelan
Republic of Ireland 3 - 0 Wales
Darron Gibson 60
Damien Duff 67
Keith Fahey 82
The Republic of Ireland struck a rich vein of form that produced three second half goals in the opening tie of the Carling Nations Cup at the Aviva Stadium.
A lively and committed Ireland dominated Wales after a low-key first half and they blossomed after Darron Gibson had confirmed their superiority with a stunning goal from 25 yards in the 60th minute.
Gibson, playing in his 14th international, swept past his immediate opponent David Vaughan to pick up a return pass from Glen Whelan and his powerful right-foot shot from the left of goal flew high into the far corner past a diving Wayne Hennessy.
It was Gibson's first goal for Ireland and a memorable one. He has built a reputation with Manchester United for scoring spectacular goals and now he can look back with pride on the goal that ranked with any in his portfolio.
Ireland were well worth their impressive win. They dominated territory and possession but until Gibson struck his spectacular they showed a lack of penetration and seldom troubled Wales' goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy.
Ciaran Clark, making an impressive debut at left-back, was close in the first half with a header and Damien Duff saw an in-swinging cross from the left bounce off the far upright but otherwise the Irish had comparatively little to show.
They had reason to take encouragement from the contributions of Clark and the other newcomer, Seamus Coleman, on the right wing but it was Duff who lifted the level of entertainment and thrilled the home fans with a magnificent performance.
It looked as if he would be denied the goal his performance deserved when he slipped as he struck a right foot shot into the arms of Hennessy when he was clear on goal in the 56th minute, but he was not to be denied his just reward.
Gibson's goal fired Ireland to renewed efforts and when Wales' Substitute Chris Gunter dwelt on the ball as it was going wide in the 67th minute, they paid the penalty. Jonathan Walters robbed him of possession and pulled the ball back towards the penalty spot for Duff to fire it right-footed past Hennessy.
Ireland's win and a dynamic second half performance was complete when substitute Keith Fahey claimed a lovely third goal. He angled a free from 23 yards around the wall of defenders and just inside an upright in the 82nd minute.
Duff was an inevitable choice as "Man of the Match" for apart from his skilful use of the ball, he weighed in with a hard-working performance that ensured he was always a problem for Wales' defenders.
He said: "It was nice to score again for Ireland after quite a while. It has become a bit of an issue over the last couple of years so it was good to get back on the score-sheet.
"But what was more important was to win the match and get the three points and I believed we deserved to do that. Wales made us work hard but I think we deserved it and we played a nice bit of football at times."
Duff said it would be good if Ireland were to go on and win the trophy in its inaugural year but drew attention to the upcoming UEFA Championship game against Macedonia which will be played at the Aviva Stadium on March 26.
He said: "We must have a good chance of winning the Carling Nations Cup and as much as it would be important to go on and win it now, it would be more important, I think, to qualify for the UEFA Championship finals and we have a big one against Macedonia next month."
Seamus Coleman was one of three young players to make their debut. He and Ciaran Clark started the game and Marc Wilson came in as substitute for Gibson in the second half.
Said Coleman: "Finally to get my first cap for Ireland was great and to get a good 60 minutes under my belt was brilliant. This win will give us confidence going into our next game, especially after three goals.
"I'm delighted, it's a great honour to play for your country and the more caps I win the merrier. Now I'm looking forward to getting back to my club and hopefully to do well for them and hopefully it will do good for my international career."
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni praised the young newcomers and said: "In the second half we deserved it. The young players I think they played well but I think they can still play better and I can wait for them a little bit more.
"This experience was important for them and this tournament will give them the opportunity of gaining the experience they need to reach their best form."
Republic of Ireland: Shay Given (Manchester City); John O'Shea (Manchester United), Sean St. Ledger (Preston NE), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa); Seamus Coleman (Everton), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Paul Green (Derby County) or Darron Gibson (Manchester United), Damien Duff (Fulham); Jonathan Walters (Stoke City), Kevin Doyle (Wolves).
Substitutes: Shane Long (Reading) for Doyle HT, Keith Fahey (Birmingham City) for Coleman 58; Andy Keogh (Bristol City) for Duff 71, Paul Green (Derby County) for Whelan 76, Marc Wilson (Stoke City) for Gibson 81, Darren O'Dea (Ipswich Town) for O'Shea 85.
Wales: Wayne Hennessey (Wolves); Neal Eardley (Blackpool), James Collins (Aston Villa), Danny Collins (Stoke City), Sam Ricketts (Bolton Wanderers); Simon Church (Reading), Andrew Crofts (Norwich City), David Vaughan (Blackpool), Hal Robson-Kanu (Reading); Andy King (Leicester City), Robert Earnshaw (Nottingham Forest).
Substitutions: Chris Gunter (Nottingham Forest) for Eardley HT, Joe Ledley (Celtic) for Vaughan 61, Fred Eastwood (Coventry City) for Robson-Kanu 67, Jermaine Easter (Crystal Palace) for Earnshaw 80, Lewin Nyatanga (Bristol City) for Ricketts 83.