What did we learn from Ireland's win in Moldova?
Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland recorded a perfect six points from their double-header against Georgia and Moldova as they continued an encouraging start to their World Cup qualifying campaign, but what did we take from the victory.
1. SHANE LONG CAN FINISH
Southampton striker Long had gone 18 games without a goal for club or country when he arrived at the Stadionul Zimbru, but he did not have to wait long to end his drought. There were less than two minutes on the clock when Wes Hoolahan put him through on goal for a deft finish that was not that of a man who had not found the back of the net since May.
2. JAMES MCCLEAN CAN FINISH TOO
With Robbie Keane having retired from international football with 68 goals to his name, Ireland desperately need to find a man - or more likely men - to plug a yawning chasm. McClean took his tally for his country to seven with a match-winning double in Moldova - a neat close-range finish followed by an emphatic volley - and O'Neill will hope to see more of that as the campaign unfolds.
3. MARTIN O'NEILL WAS RIGHT
O'Neill is nothing if not canny. He attempted to take the pressure off his players in the run-up to the game by insisting there are no easy matches in international football these days and Moldova, ranked 161st in the world by FIFA, were not the cannon fodder some may have imagined on their own pitch. He was also right when he said Georgia would take points from teams, as Wales found to their cost.
4. WES HOOLAHAN MAKES A DIFFERENCE
There is little doubt that Hoolahan is one of the more naturally gifted players in the Republic squad and it is a matter of some consternation to his advocates that he is not a nailed-on starter for every game. His vision and ability to deliver a telling pass were demonstrated to perfection for Long's opener, although O'Neill seems to prefer to keep the now 34-year-old in reserve for games in which his particular talent is needed to unlock a tight defence.
5. MOLDOVA CAN MIX IT
Moldova may not pick up many points during this campaign, but they will not go down without a fight. Hoolahan in particular found himself on the wrong end of a series of hefty challenges and O'Neill felt the need at one point to stride onto the pitch himself to keep Jonathan Walters out of trouble after he took exception to the treatment he received at the hands of defender Veaceslav Posmac.