Lessons learned in Ireland v Moldova

PNE duo in the Republic of Ireland squad

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Wales' victory in Georgia earlier on Friday meant nothing but three points would do Ireland and Martin O'Neil's side got off to the ideal start when Stephen Ward's long throw caused panic in the box and Murphy opened the scoring after less than two minutes. Too often in the past, Ireland have struggled to put away inferior opponents but showed what they are capable of against Moldova when given licence to pass the ball through midfield.

The Moldovans will run out at the Aviva Stadium on Friday evening having not won a competitive match since they beat Montenegro 5-2 in Podgorica in October 2013, but desperate to add to the meagre two Group D points they have collected from their opening eight World Cup qualifiers. More of the same in Cardiff please.

But even that may not be enough for Martin O'Neill's men to reach the World Cup qualifying play-off.

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Maguire is one of three uncapped players in the Irish squad, together with Aston Villa front man Scott Hogan and Millwall's Aiden O'Brien. Useful traits should Jonathan Walters' injury woes continue and Murphy is called upon to deputise once again.

The FAI picked a unusual time to announce Martin O'Neill and his backroom team's contract extension until 2020.

The Southampton striker had sat out training for the previous two days as a precaution after suffering a dead leg.

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Before his new contract was announced he had set out his reasons for optimism. It remains to be seen if he will recover in time for Cardiff on Monday. If they finish second by winning both games, Ireland will have 13 points to their name in the play-off table. They were setting a punishing pace at the top of the group and began to slow down only when they lost their captain and best player, Seamus Coleman, to a broken leg following Neil Taylor's tackle during the 0-0 home draw with Wales in March.

O'Neill and Keane have agreed to remain in charge of the Republic of Ireland even if they fail to qualify for Russian Federation 2018.

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