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Ciaran Clark and Wes Hoolahan on target for Republic

GET IN: Republic of Irelands Wes Hoolahan (left) celebrates his goal with James McClean

GET IN: Republic of Irelands Wes Hoolahan (left) celebrates his goal with James McClean

Ciaran Clark and Wes Hoolahan scored their first senior international goals to hand the Republic of Ireland a morale-boosting victory over Poland.

Aston Villa defender Clark thumped home a 35th-minute shot to give Ireland the lead against the run of play, before Norwich midfielder Hoolahan - who had received warm applause when he was introduced as a second-half replacement for Shane Long - cemented victory 14 minutes from time with an accomplished finish.

The scoreline perhaps flattered Giovanni Trapattoni’s men, who were decidedly second-best before the break.

However, goalkeeper David Forde responded to the challenge of being brought into the starting line-up with a series of important saves to keep them in it.

And, as the game wore on, the hosts grew in confidence and finished strongly to remind their fans of the heady days before a disastrous Euro 2012 campaign when they were difficult to beat.

The Italian will restore his tried and tested players to the starting line-up for next month’s crucial World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria, but will do so confident that his options appear to have increased.

For much of the opening 45 minutes, the Poles would have been delighted with what they saw as their side dominated possession and created a series of opportunities to take the lead.

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 drilled a low shot into the bottom corner.

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 with 14 minutes remaining when substitute Jeff Hendrick crossed for Hoolahan who volleyed past the helpless Szczesny.

 

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