Wales and Ireland picked up their first points of World Cup qualification last night with Quinn and Gunter in action...Four Royals were on international duty in European Qualifying for the 2018 World Cup over the last few days, with Chris Gunter, Stephen Quinn, Paul McShane and Sandro Wiser all receiving the call-up for their nations last week.
Chris Gunter featured for Wales in their clash with Moldova at the Cardiff City Stadium, with both Paul McShane and Stephen Quinn called up for national duty with Republic of Ireland for their qualifier in Serbia.
Royals holding midfielder, Sandro Wieser, is a mainstay in the Liechtenstein side and faced a tough trip to Spain as they opened their qualifying campaign for 2018.
Wales 4-0 Moldova, World Cup Qualification, Monday 5th September, Cardiff City Stadium
After an outstanding showing in the European Championships, Wales wanted to get their qualifying campaign for Russia off to the best possible start. Chris Gunter started for the Dragons, who faced Moldova in their opening game of Group D. There was an electric atmosphere around the Cardiff City Stadium as the Welsh fans paid tribute to their heroes of the summer for their efforts in France.
After a slow start to the game it was clear Moldova had come to Wales looking to play for a point, sitting very deep and putting 11 men behind the ball. Gunter was heavily involved in the Wales’ attacking play, pushing high up the right flank. He looked like he may have won his nation a penalty when he ran in behind the opposition back-four and was bought down, but the referee adjudged the contact on the Reading man to be fair.
A moment of brilliance from Gareth Bale unpicked the stubborn Moldovan defence, when the Real Madrid Man whipped in a fine cross from the right wing, picking out Sam Vokes in the centre. Vokes converted the chance well, heading the ball powerfully past the keeper to hand Wales a deserved lead as the clock ticked towards half time.
Wales double their lead just before the break when Joe Allen fired home from the edge of the opposition box. The midfielder hit the strike sweetly after the ball ricocheted to him from a Wales corner, putting the hosts firmly in the driving seat.
Garath Bale made sure of the win in a second half dominated by the Welsh. First a poor back-pass from Moldovan defender Ion Jardan put Bale clean through on goal, with the forward applying a cool chipped finish to make it three. A late penalty, which Bale converted, rounded off a good performance from Wales, giving them the best possible start to their qualifying bid to reach a first World Cup since 1958.
Serbia 2-2 Rep of Ireland, World Cup Qualification, Monday 5th September, Rajiko Mitic Stadium
Stephen Quinn and Paul McShane both received call-ups for the Irish as they got their qualifying journey started with a difficult trip away to Serbia. Also competing in Group D - the same group as Wales - it was vital Ireland took something from the fixture in such a competitive qualifying group.
Jeff Hendrick's deflected effort gave the Republic the perfect start in Belgrade netting after just three minutes. Ireland managed to hold out until the interval with their lead intact despite intense Serbia pressure.
It took until the 62nd minute for Serbia to find their equaliser when Filip Kostic netted for the hosts. Seven minutes later and things had gone from bad to worse for Ireland when Serbia were awarded controversial penalty. Dusan Tadic stepped up to score and seemingly win the game for the home side.
Stephen Quinn joined the action on the 70th minute as the Irish went in search of an equaliser, and the Greens managed to dig deep with ten minutes to play when Darryl Murphy rose to head home from a corner.
The visitors managed to hold on for the remaining minutes with Darren Randolph putting in a man of the match display between the posts as the team came away with a point in their opening game.
Spain 8-0 Liechtenstein, World Cup Qualification, Monday 5th September, Reino de Leon
Reading’s Sandro Wieser started for Liechtenstein in an intensely difficult first World Cup qualifier in Group G. 2010 World Champions Spain were Liechtenstein’s first opponents, boasting the likes of Pique, Sergio Ramos, Diego Costa, David Silva and Thiago Alcantara all in their starting XI.
Spain were as dominant as their line-up suggested and didn’t take long to open the scoring when Costa found the back of the net after just 10 minutes. The visitors did well to keep the score at just 1-0 until midway through the second half, presenting Spaniards with a stubborn resistance.
Sergi Roberto eventually managed to double the home sides’ lead after 55 minutes, and then two more goals in the following five minutes ended any chances of Liechtenstein earning a result. Vitolo and David Silva put Spain three and four ahead before Costa added his second of the night.
A late brace from Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata and another from David Silva in stoppage time capped off a heavy 8-0 loss for Lichtenstein, who now prop up of their qualifying group after one game.