Saturday, 16 December, 2017

Lessons learned in Ireland v Moldova

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Spencer Simpson | 07 October, 2017, 00:30

While in Group F, England have all but qualified and will make certain of their place in Russian Federation next summer with a win over Slovenia at Wembley on Thursday night.

Wales enter the final stretch of Group D without injured Real Madrid star Gareth Bale and Chris Coleman's men have an arduous return journey from Tbilisi to contend with compared to Ireland's short flight to Cardiff on Sunday afternoon.

Here's what Charlie is predicting for the five clashes.

Harry Kane scored deep into stoppage time to help England also claim their place at the World Cup with a 1-0 win against Slovenia in Group F. Maximum points could even see them pip Serbia to top spot should they lose to Austria as well as Georgia. If they finish second by winning both games, Ireland will have 13 points to their name in the play-off table.

Southgate is under pressure and we don't know what formation or system he wants to play. Two wins from two is the minimum requirement for the Dragons.

Golf star McIlroy said Keane snubbed him for an autograph when he was a kid, but O'Neill joked that he is sure one can be arranged for the golfer.

It was just Ireland's third goal of the campaign at the Aviva Stadium, where draws have proved costly, but they did not have to wait too much longer for the fourth when Wes Hoolahan picked out Ward with an exquisite cross-field pass. Meanwhile, Moldova shouldn't cause them any problems at the back. "But I definitely think that he is a goalscorer", he added.

Asked if he felt his near-four-year reign to date could be considered successful, regardless of how the ongoing qualification bid pans out, the manager replied: "Well, we qualified for a competition - one out of one".

The former Celtic boss, who guided the Republic to last summer's Euro 2016 finals, told FAI TV: "I spoke to John very recently and he said on behalf of the board he would like to extend my contract for another couple of years, obviously with the Euros coming up, and I've agreed to do so".

I would be looking to give Ben Woodburn a start after being so influential in his last two games but Hal Robson-Kanu could be the hero.

Robert Lewandowski struck a hat trick to become Poland's leading goal scorer of all-time, overtaking Wlodzimierz Lubanski's 48 goals and helping to seal a 6-1 win over Armenia that puts them on the brink of qualification from Group E.

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