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Cardiff in full voice but Republic of Ireland fans sing longest and loudest | Stuart James

Republic of Ireland’s fans were outnumbered by 10 to one, but injury to Joe Allen and a goal from James McClean ensured the volume was turned down on Wales

It was billed as the biggest game in this country since 1993 and for Wales the sense of deja vu come the end was suffocating. Once again the World Cup finals will pass them by, just as they did 24 years ago, when Paul Bodin’s penalty kick thudded against the crossbar in their critical qualifier against Romania. This time it was the Republic of Ireland’s turn to spoil the party as Martin O’Neill’s side kept alive their own hopes of travelling to Russia next summer with the sort of victory that has become the manager’s hallmark.

Ireland may not be easy on the eye but there is something to be admired about their uncanny knack for grinding out results when it matters most. There was the victory over Germany in October 2015, the triumph against Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Euro 2016 play-offs, and that 1-0 win over Italy to reach the last 16 in that summer’s finals in France. The scalp of Wales, who had not lost a competitive match on home soil for four years, has now been added to the collection.

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