Giovanni Trapattoni’s experimental Republic of Ireland side recorded a morale-boosting 2-0 victory over Poland on Wednesday evening ahead of next month’s crucial World Cup qualification double-header thanks to goals in either half from Ciaran Clark and substitute Wes Hoolahan.
Spurred on by a large Polish following, the visitors made the brighter start and were inches from opening the scoring when David Forde’s poor clearance fell to Ludovic Obraniak but his shot deflected narrowly wide.
Poland continued to dominate proceedings with highly-rated Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski looking particularly threatening. However, it was the home side who took the lead against the run of play shortly after the half-hour mark. Artur Boruc denied Shane Long from James McClean’s corner but Clark was on hand to calmly sweep home the loose ball from 12 yards.
Moments after Ireland had taken the lead, Forde was called into action as Lewandowski looked to draw the Poles level before the referee waved away penalty appeals after Clark appeared to foul the Dortmund frontman in the box.
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny came on at half-time and was quickly forced into action as he tipped James McCarthy’s half-volley over the bar before Hoolahan sealed the victory with a well-taken goal with a quarter of the game remaining.
James McClean’s set-piece was only cleared as far as debutant Jeff Hendrick on the edge of the box, and he picked out Hoolahan with a measured chip before the Norwich playmaker fired past Szczesny to double the home side’s advantage.
Ireland travel to Stockholm on March 22 to face Sweden before Austria visit Dublin a couple of days later.
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