Daryl Murphy’s first-half double set up an intriguing World Cup qualification trip to Wales as the Republic of Ireland eased past Moldova 2-0.

The Nottingham Forest striker marked his 30th senior cap with his second and third goals for his country on a night when victory was the only option if Ireland were to keep their hopes of emerging from Group D alive.

They now head to Cardiff on Monday having to beat Chris Coleman’s Euro 2016 semi-finalists, who are ranked 21 places above them by FIFA, to stand a chance of progressing from a wide-open group.

What they said

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill: “Regardless of their result in Georgia today, we have to go and win the match. I didn’t want to be talking about a game that’s in the future when we might not get a result here. A couple of early goals against Moldova obviously settled our nerves, which was great, and we went on to win. Now talking about Wales, we go and apply ourselves, really play very strongly and resolutely, and I think we can win the match.”Moldova boss Igor Dobrovolski: “We had quite a difficult group.”

And then in a response to a question about midfielder Alexandru Gatcan’s injury-time dismissal, he added: “He was not provoked, it just happened.”

Tweet of the match

Star man – Daryl Murphy

The in-form Nottingham Forest man had managed just one international goal in 29 previous appearances before kick-off but he proved to be the match-winner with two early strikes as Ireland secured a comfortable success.

Moment of the match

With Group D rivals Wales having earlier won in Georgia, Ireland needed to start strongly to ease any nerves among the Dublin crowd as they looked to keep alive their qualification hopes. Veteran striker Murphy did just that, turning home from close range in the second minute following Stephen Ward’s long throw into the box.

Data point

Murphy’s opener means Ireland have now scored four goals in the opening five minutes of matches in this qualifying campaign, more than any other European country.

Ratings

Republic of Ireland: Darren Randolph: 7, Cyrus Christie: 7, Shane Duffy: 6, Ciaran Clark: 7, Stephen Ward: 7, David Meyler: 7, Jeff Hendrick: 6, Wes Hoolahan: 7, Callum O’Dowda: 7, Daryl Murphy: 8, Shane Long: 5. Substitutes: Harry Arter (for Murphy, 78 mins): 6, Aiden McGeady (for Hoolahan, 78 mins): 6, Sean Maguire (for Long, 83 minutes): 6

WHO’S UP NEXT?

Wales v Republic of Ireland (World Cup Qualifying, October 9)

Moldova v Austria (World Cup Qualifying, October 9)