James McClean’s double gives Eire victory in Moldova
Republic of Ireland’s James McClean scored two second-half goals to secure a 3-1 win in Moldova on Sunday that put them level on points with the leaders in World Cup qualifying Group “D” though they were fara from convincing.
Ireland went ahead after two minutes through Shane Long and looked comfortable until they were caught napping at the back just before halftime when Igor Bugaev levelled.
McClean restored the visitors’ lead when he stabbed home a close-range shot after 69 minutes and sealed the points six minutes later as Moldova’s challenge faded.
Ireland have seven points from three matches and trail Serbia on goal difference after they beat Austria 3-2. Moldova remain bottom without a point having conceded 10 goals.
For Ireland this felt like a significant night in Ireland’s quest to reach a first World Cup in 16 years.
It was not as easy as it should have been against the side 161st in the Fifa rankings, it never is with Ireland. And so, as the game drifted towards what would have been a desperate draw, two-goal James McClean came to their rescue to ensure that an earlier favour from Georgia in Cardiff did not go to waste.
For manager Martin O’Neill was clearly cheered by news of Wales being held when interviewed before the game.
Republic of Ireland’s James McClean celebrates scoring their second goal with Stephen Ward .