24.05.2006 at 19:45 Lansdowne Road
Republic of Ireland
0 - 1
Referee: Martin Ingvarsson (Sweden)
Friendly / Prog-match
Manuel Iturra 48 mins,
Wednesday 24th May 2006
Republic of Ireland 0 Chile 1
Nice training camp, shame about the match. Ireland brought the sunshine back with them to Lansdowne Road but nothing like sunshine football, as Chile emerged deserved victors by a single goal in Steve Staunton’s second game in charge.
After the ecstasy of the win against Sweden, this wasn’t quite agony – but it was sobering reality check nonetheless. Friendlies, good or bad, are never the most reliable guide to a side’s state of health — especially when the manager is inclined to experiment — but, after this disappointing outing, what’s clear for Steve Staunton and his staff is that there is a lot of work to be done with just one game to go (against Holland in August) before the real test begins with the European Championship qualifier against Germany the following month.
To begin with, the mood was upbeat, as Kevin Doyle’s extraordinary season was marked before kick off with the presentation of his eircom League winners’ medal. Doyle, whose move from Cork City to Championship winners Reading, earned him the rare honour of two league winners’ medals in one season, was joined on the pitch by Cork City boss Damien Richardson and chairman Brian Lennox in recognition of his goal-scoring contribution to the club’s memorable season – form he then took to Reading where his prodigious strike rate was instrumental in Steve Coppell’s men running away with the title.
When the game began, Doyle was part of a three-pronged attack as Steve Staunton once more rang the tactical changes with a 3-4-3 formation which saw Kevin Kilbane starting not, as predicted, at full back but in his more familiar role on the left side of midfield.
And, in the first half he saw plenty of the ball too, though perhaps not quite in the way the manager had intended, the Everton man having to track back repeatedly as the neat and tidy Chileans strung their passes together across the width of the pitch.
But the real threat from the visitors came on the other side where the man who can only be called ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez proved a worrying handful for debutant Stephen Kelly and the veteran Gary Breen, first slicing between them to force Shay Given into the low save and, then, almost on the stroke of half-time, thumping a shot from a narrow angle against the post.
Robbie Keane had a couple of half-chances – both set up headers won by the hard-working Doyle – but, in truth, it was Chile who had much the better of the first 45, as Staunton’s men struggled to develop any kind of rhythm. There was a dozy, end of term feel about the performance of the home side, with John O’Shea in particular guilty of sloppy use of the ball – though he was by no means the only culprit as the Irish repeatedly gave away possession.
Indeed, the home side could have gone behind as early as the seventh minute when young Stephen Kelly’s poor pass back to Gary Breen put Reinaldo Navia through on Given. But though Navia did the hard bit in getting around the keeper, he couldn’t keep his angled shot on target.
However, there was to be no reprieve within just three minutes of the start of the second half. Liverpool man Gonzalez was again involved, his free-kick resulting in some chaotic ping pong in the box and, when the hesitant Irish defence failed to clear, Manuel Ittura finished to the net from close range.
Five minutes later, Staunton rang the changes, Kilbane’s versatility again put to test as, with the departure of Gary Breen – who was replaced by Ian Harte — he took up position on the left side of a three man defence. Wayne Henderson, Graham Kavanagh and Aiden McGeady also entered the fray, for Given, Miller and O’Shea.
And the trickery of Celtic winger McGeady soon gave the 41,000 something to cheer about, as Ireland began to enjoy their best spell of sustained pressure in the game. Steven Reid headed over from a Harte free, and then substitute Jason Byrne – who had replaced his former eircom League colleague Doyle – set up both Damien Duff and Robbie Keane in quick succession, only for Bravo in the Chilean goal to live up to his name.
The PA announcement of a very generous six minutes of added time brought one of the biggest cheers of the night, but Chile’s goal remained intact under the Irish pressure, and the visitors almost had the last word when man of the match Jiminez twice went close, first with a bending free kick and then with a low shot on the turn which went inches wide of Henderson’s far post.
In the end, it was the Chilean radio commentator in the press box who, in true South American fashion, was making all the excitable noise, as Steve Staunton and Ireland were left with little enough to cheer about.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Given (Henderson 52), Kelly (A Reid 85), Dunne, Breen (Harte 52), Kilbane, Miller (Kav 52), O’ Shea (McGeady 52), Reid, Duff, Doyle (Byrne 70), Keane.
CHILE: Bravo, Jara, Vargas, Contreras, Olarra, Acuna, Iturra, Gonzalez (Zenteno 90), Jiminez, Navia (sanchez 76), Suazo (Galaz 80.
Kevin Doyle was named “Man of the Match" at Lansdowne Road where Chile defeated the Republic of Ireland 1-0 in the friendly international before 41,200 spectators.
Doyle was a lively presence up front for Ireland in his second international before he was withdrawn to make way for Jason Byrne (Shelbourne) in the 72nd minute.
It was a memorable night for the man from Wexford. Before the game he was presented with the eircom League Championship medal he won for scoring seven goals for Cork City early in the 2005 eircom National League season.
He was accompanied by Cork Chairman, Brian Lennox, as he accepted a medal he received because of his contribution to Cork’s Championship campaign before he transferred to Reading.
He then went on to help Reading win the Championship in England and earn promotion to the Premiership to create some sort of record – two championship medals for two different clubs in the one twelve months.
He said after the game against Chile: “It was so disappointing to get beaten, it was a bad way to finish the season.
“A couple of our lads have not played a match for two to three weeks and that did not help. We still created a couple of chances but we failed to take them while they took their one chance and that was the difference.
“From my own point of view I did not receive one clear shot of goal. It was just one of those games where the chances did not crop up.”