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Wales 0-0 Republic of Ireland

Updated: Wednesday, 14 Aug 2013 22:10 | Comments

Shane Long rues a missed chance
Shane Long rues a missed chance

The Republic of Ireland started the international season with an uninspiring 0-0 draw with Wales in Cardiff.

Ireland striker Shane Long had the best opportunities, one in either half, but for the third year running in opening-season fixtures the game finished scoreless.

The talents of Gareth Bale were sorely missed as the visitors enjoyed the better of the contest and created the clearer of what chances there were.

In addition to Long's efforts, Robbie Brady and Paddy Madden also went close.

Craig Bellamy's second-half free-kick was as close as toothless Wales came, with Ben Davies failing to make the most of their best chance right on half-time.

The build-up to the game had been dominated by Bale and whether the Tottenham winger will complete a world record move to Real Madrid.

He sat on the bench in his suit and tie thanks to his foot injury, but how the game was crying out for just a glimpse of his pace, power and skill.

Few of the sparse crowd present at Cardiff City Stadium would have complained had he removed the suit, in the style of Clark Kent, to reveal a Wales jersey and taken to the pitch to enliven proceedings but, alas, it was not to be.

The game also served as a reminder of why FIFA plan to do away with August friendlies with players, understandably, having one eye on the start of domestic duties this weekend.

Indeed, it is hard to see what Chris Coleman and Giovanni Trapattoni will have gleaned ahead of next month's World Cup qualifying double-header.

The lack of entertainment on show was summed up by the lack of a shot on target until the 55th minute, and even then it was Bellamy's tame set-piece.

Ireland had lost just one of their previous seven games and, unsurprisingly, they made the better start, starving the home side of possession for long periods.

Wales, by comparison, were profligate and gifted what little ball they had back to the visitors during a cagey opening lacking in any degree of intensity.

Seamus Coleman had a half-hearted penalty appeal waved away by referee Pavel Kralovec after he bundled into Ashley Williams.

It took 22 minutes for either side to register a shot on goal, but Glenn Whelan, winning his 50th cap, could not make the most of space on the edge of the area as he dragged well wide from Brady's pass.

The chances started to flow for the Republic as Brady fired high and wide, before Long spooned an ugly effort over from James McCarthy's astute pull-back.

Wales had barely registered an attacking threat, although their few bright passages of play invariably involved Bellamy.

Jonathan Williams had their first shot on goal just after the half-hour mark but his strike was well wide of the target.

Brady went closer at the other end, showing lovely footwork to buy himself a yard of space before bending a low shot just beyond Boaz Myhill's far post.

Wales left-back Davies then summed up the opening half when he spooned wide when unmarked right on half-time.

Keiren Westwood was the first of the two keepers to make a save in the 55th minute, as he held on to a Bellamy free-kick.

The usual steady stream of substitutes soon started, but it did little to alleviate the drudgery of the general play as the game meandered along aimlessly.

Yeovil striker Madden was introduced in place of Wes Hoolahan just before the 70th minute mark and almost made an instant impact as his flick-on found Long, but the striker was denied by Myhill.

Madden himself had two chances to give Ireland the win with ten minutes remaining.

He forced Myhill into a full-length spot from the edge of the box, but fired straight at the keeper a matter of moments later.

Ireland next host Sweden in the Aviva on 6 September. 

Wales: Boaz Myhill, Chris Gunther, Ashley Williams (c), Sam Ricketts, Ben Davies, Jack Collison (Craig Davies 82), Joe Allen (Crofts 86), Joe Ledley (King 60), Hal Robson-Kanu, Jonathan Williams, Craig Bellamy (Vokes 60). 

Subs not used: Hennessey, Gabbidon, Taylor, Matthews, Vaughan, Church, Richards, Fon Williams.

Rep of Ireland: Kieren Westwood, Seamus Coleman, Ciaran Clark, John O'Shea (c) (Darren O'Dea 60), Marc Wilson, Jon Walters (Conor Sammon 84), James McCarthy, Glenn Whelan (Paul Green 60), Robbie Brady (James McClean h/t), Wes Hoolahan (Paddy Madden 69), Shane Long (Andy Keogh 74).

Subs not used: Randolph, Kelly, McShane, Hendrick, Meyler, Henderson.

Referee: Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic). 

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