Thousands of Ireland fans had traveled across the Irish Sea to Cardiff to support their team. Wales were second on the table, leading Ireland by one point. The winner of this match would go through to the World Cup playoffs. The scene was set for a Wales vs Ireland showdown in the Cardiff City Stadium.
The Welsh national anthem was sung with no music, which was very effective. It was a beautiful but deafening roar that set the challenge to Ireland. I think it’s the best version of the anthem I have ever sung at a sporting event!
Wales started the game very promisingly by dominating the possession and making all of the opportunities. I was convinced after the first ten minutes that Wales would be the ones going to the Play-offs. Ireland’s defence was very stubborn and physical, which frustrated the Welsh supporters when tough decisions didn’t go their way. In my opinion, the moment that changed the course of the game was when Wales’ midfielder, Joe Allen, went off the pitch with concussion. After this, Ireland took advantage of this and began to make chances of their own and scared Wales. The first half finished goalless at Nil-Nil.
The second half was very tight again with Wales using most of the possession and Ireland happy to stay back and defend with few players venturing past the halfway line. Ireland’s silencing goal came after a dodgy pass from Wayne Hennessy to Ashley Williams, who couldn’t keep it. The ball went into the box and found its way to James McClean who shot it to score the deciding goal. The game remained 0-1 until the final whistle.
You can only say what if? What if Gareth Bale’s strike that hit the post against Georgia had gone in? What if Ramsey’s shot against Ireland earlier in the campaign had gone in? What if Joe Allen hadn’t gone off injured? Wales will not be going to the World Cup in Russia in 2018. Once again, we came so very close.
Thank you, FAW, for keeping the dream alive until the VERY last game. It has been a campaign of ups and downs and now it’s all over.
Article > Re-cap of how Wales beat Moldova