Clark and Hoolahan put their hands up


Rep of Ireland 2 Poland 0:  Ciaran Clark and Wes Hoolahan scored their first international goals as Ireland recovered from a shaky start to beat Poland 2-0 at the Aviva Stadium.

After a bright opening from the visitors, when David Forde was needed in the Irish goal to keep it scoreless, Clark scrambled home an opener in the 35th minute and Hoolahan doubled the lead 15 minutes from time after a sublime assist from fellow substitute and one of three Derby County debutants on the night, Jeff Hendrick.

Conor Sammon debuted from the start and played the entire game, but few chances fell his way and when one did he was unable to control a misplaced pass and the opportunity was lost. Otherwise he battled well and made live difficult for the visitors, whose fire faded after a raft of replacements after the break.

“I think this evening we needed to see two or three good solutions and new players,” said Trapattoni afterwards. “And in the first half we suffered very much, Poland played very well, but our balance and organisation was very good I think after this goal (Clark’s) and in the second half we played better, with more personality. Also the new players played very good and we got the result.

“Obviously, Poland did not deserve to lose but football is football.”

Asked who exactly impressed, the manager singled out Sammon and added it was important that James McCarthy got more time ahead of the world Cup qualifying double-header against Sweden and Austria – both of whom were beaten tonight by Argentina and Wales respectively – next month.

However, it was 33-year-old goalkeeper Forde, preferred to Keiren Westwood because he is playing regular first team football for his club Millwall, who had the chance to shine during the first half.

Poland were simply too slick for Ireland in the middle of the field as Jakub Blaszczykowski and Daniel Lukasic provided the ammunition for Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski to threaten repeatedly. Forde survived an early scare when he scuffed a clearance straight to Ludovic Obraniak and looked on gratefully as full-back Paul McShane deflected the ensuing shot wide. But from then on, he turned in an assured display as Lewandowski set about the task of trying to give his side the lead.

He perhaps should have done just that with 29 minutes gone when he was played in behind the home defence and ran in on goal. But Forde stood tall and when Lewandowski finally pulled the trigger, the keeper blocked with his legs.

The hosts took a shock lead after Clark climbed well to meet a left-wing corner. Although keeper Artur Boruc palmed away his initial effort, the ball fell to the defender once again in the midst of a goalmouth melee and he drilleda low shot into the bottom corner.

Lewandowski tested Forde with a scuffed volley three minutes later, but it was the men in green who headed for the dressing rooms at half-time with something to defend. They might have had even more to smile about within three minutes of the restart when James McCarthy send a side-footed effort towards goal, only for substitute keeper Wojciech Szczesny to make a fine fingertip save.

For all the Poles continued to enjoy the better of the game, Trapattoni’s men were making more of a fist of it as they tried to hit the visitors on the counter.

They might have extended their lead with 62 minutes gone when defender Damien Perquis sliced McClean’s cross straight to Sammon. He homed in on goal, but took a heavy touch as he prepared to shoot and Szczesny pounced to intercept.

Poland could have dragged themselves back into the game two minutes later when Arkadiusz Milik worked his way into a promising position inside the Ireland penalty area. However, the substitute tried too many dummies as he tried to tee himself up and slipped and fell over.

The miss proved costly Hendrick lifted a ball over the Polish defence for Hoolahan, who controlled the ball on his chest before volleying past the helpless Szczesny.

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