Wales and Republic of Ireland play out tame goalless draw in Cardiff

• Read Barry Glendenning's minute-by-minute report

A humdrum game was crying out for the presence of Gareth Bale but the closest a sparse crowd got to seeing one of the world's most sought-after footballers in action came when the Tottenham forward took his place on the Wales bench wearing a suit and tie.

Ruled out through injury, Bale sat through a banal 90 minutes of football that did nothing to alter the widely-held view that this is a ludicrous time to play an international friendly.

Wales could have been forgiven for thinking things were not going to go their way when the Irish national anthem was played for a second time instead of their own, much to the amusement of the visiting team.

It proved to be a rare moment of entertainment on an evening when it was highly questionable what either manager could possibly have gained from a match that was the slowest of slow-burners – the game was 55 minutes old before there was a shot on target.

It was certainly nothing like Giovanni Trapattoni's last visit to Wales, when the Italy team he was in charge of lost 2-1 in a Euro 2004 qualifier played in front of 70,000 at the Millennium Stadium. On this occasion the Republic of Ireland manager was entitled to feel that his team did more than enough to win but the combination of Shane Long's profligacy and a couple of decent stops from Boaz Myhill in the second half ensured Wales came away with a draw.

Chris Coleman confirmed afterwards that he does not expect Bale to play any part for Tottenham in their Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace on Sunday, because of the foot injury the 24-year-old is carrying.

"Gareth will be a doubt considering the work he has done in the last two or three weeks," the Wales manager said.

"He did some ball work [this week] but nothing difficult, but then the next day he was very tight, stiff and sore because physically he hasn't done the work. It'd be very risky to put someone in who hasn't had any minutes on the pitch."

If many of the players on show had their minds on the Premier League season starting this weekend, both managers will have been looking ahead to World Cup qualifiers next month, when Wales take on Macedonia and Serbia, while Ireland – who are pursuing second spot in Group C behind Germany – face Sweden at home and Austria away.

One thing is for sure, Sweden will give Ireland's defence a far more testing workout than anything a toothless Wales side – Craig Bellamy's second-half free kick was the only time Keiren Westwood had to make a serious save – provided.

Trapattoni needed no telling that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had scored another hat-trick for Sweden – he got four against England last November – in a 4-2 win over Norway in Stockholm.

Long could easily have had a couple here but the West Bromwich Albion striker lifted a left-foot shot over the bar in the first half after running on to James McCarthy's neat cutback and was denied by Myhill in the second half, when the Wales keeper came off his line quickly to repel a close-range effort.

Myhill had to be alert again later in the game, when he saved Paddy Madden's low shot and when James McClean pounced on the loose ball, Ashley Williams raced across to block.

Coleman was pleased to pick up a first clean sheet in 10 games in charge and he admitted he will also be relieved when the Bale saga has been put to bed. "This week has not really been about Wales and Ireland, to be honest.

"It's been about is [Gareth] going or he is staying, is he playing? I can't grumble because he's a great player. Only special players get that type of publicity and interest – and he plays for us. But it'd be nice for the next game if he is fit and settled somewhere. We hope and pray that happens."

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