International friendlies - Wales and Ireland draw blanks in Cardiff

International friendly, Cardiff City Stadium – Wales 0 Republic of Ireland 0

International friendlies - Wales and Ireland draw blanks in Cardiff

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Republic of Ireland's Wes Hoolahan (left) and Wales' Joe Allen (right) battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Cardiff City Stadium (PA)

Wales and Republic of Ireland played out a low-key goalless draw in the international friendly at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The first shot on target did not arrive until the 54th minute, when Craig Bellamy's free-kick was easily dealt with by Ireland goalkeeper Kieren Westwood.

In a second half scarred by multiple substitutions, Ireland looked the more fluent of the two sides and could have won the game in the 79th minute.

Jon Walters' run from the left found Paddy Madden, and the Yeovil Town player was only denied a debut goal by a fine save low to his right by Wales goalkeeper Boaz Myhill.

Wales skipper Ashley Williams then reacted quickly to block James McClean's follow-up shot.

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni will be heartened by the clean sheet and the resolute performance of his defenders ahead of the two crucial World Cup Group C qualifiers in September.

Ireland face Sweden in Dublin on 6 September, then Austria away four days later. Ireland, Austria and Sweden are all on 11 points from six games, five points behind leaders Germany.

Wales are fourth in Group A, 10 points behind second-placed Croatia. They face Macedonia on 6 September followed by a home tie with Serbia.

Wales had an early half-chance in the 14th minute, after Westwood failed to come and gather a Bellamy corner from the left, but John O'Shea was able to head clear under pressure from Ashley Williams.

Shane Long had good opportunity in the 24th minute when he ran onto a low ball from James McCarthy from the right, but the West Bromwich Albion striker, perhaps distracted by Wes Hoolahan's dummy, got his feet all wrong and scooped his shot well over the bar.

Ireland had by far the better of the possession in the first half and looked comfortable on the ball, but lacked the quality to unlock the opposition's defence.

Robbie Brady almost managed it in the 40th minute when he dragged the ball across Sam Ricketts and curled an effort from the edge of the area, only to see his shot end up wide of Myhill's goal.

Wales could have taken an unlikely half-time lead in the final minute of the first half, when the Ireland defence dozed and failed to pick up a low, short corner from Bellamy, but Ben Davies dragged his shot across Westwood's goal.

Bellamy's free-kick in the 54th minute was the first shot on target, although Westwood always looked comfortable as he dealt with the floated set-piece from 30 yards.

The best chance of the game came in the 69th minute, but Myhill produced a superb block to deny Long from close range, after the Ireland striker had run past Ricketts to get on the end of Madden's header.

Madden looked sharp on his debut from the moment he came on to replace Hoolahan in the 68th minute, and having been denied by Myhill when set up by Walters, he then shot over in the 88th minute after the Wales goalkeeper had dropped a cross at his feet.


Ashley Williams (Wales): The Welsh skipper got the better of his duel with Ireland striker Shane Long, and produced a superb block at full stretch to deny James McClean in the second half. It helped Wales to their first clean sheet in 12 matches, the last having come in the Euro 2012 1-0 qualifier win over Bulgaria in October 2011.


WALES: Myhill 7, Gunter 6, Ashley Williams 8, Ricketts 6, Ben Davies 7, Ledley 6, Allen 6, Bellamy 7, Collison 6, Jonathan Williams 7, Robson-Kanu 6. Subs: Craig Davies 6, Taylor 7, King 6, Vokes 6, Crofts 6.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Westwood 6, Wilson 7, O'Shea 7, Clark 7, Coleman 7, Walters 6, McCarthy 6, Whelan 6, Brady 7, Hoolahan 6, Long 7. Subs: O'Dea 6, Green 6, Andy Keogh 6, McClean 7, Sammon 6, Madden 7.


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