29.05.2008 at 20:00 Craven Cottage, London
Republic of Ireland
1 - 0
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (ENG).
Paul Mc Shane
Aidan Mc Geady
Luis Amaranto Perea,
Thursday Night 29th May 2008
Stato: First ever game against Colombia; Trapattoni's first win
Debut: Wesley Hoolahan makes debut.
Giovanni Trapattoni goes in search of his first win as Ireland boss as the Republic get set to face Colombia.
The Italian's reign got off a shaky start on Saturday as Andy Keogh's last-minute equaliser secured a 1-1 draw with Serbia.
However, having welcomed some of his more experienced players back into the squad over the last few days Trapattoni will be hoping to go one better at Fulham's Craven Cottage ground on Thursday.
He is facing a tough task, though, as the Irish have failed to win any of their previous seven international fixtures, while their South American opponents are currently brimming with confidence.
Colombia are unbeaten in their opening four qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup and have already secured a 2-1 victory over arch-rivals Argentina.
They will also be buzzing from a 5-2 rout of Venezuela at the beginning of May and will be hoping to keep their momentum going ahead of a clash with European heavyweights France next Tuesday.
Despite being in fine form, the visitors are unlikely to have things all their own way in Fulham as Ireland look set to name a starting line-up loaded with attacking flair.
Celtic's Aiden McGeady and Newcastle's Damien Duff look set to provide the ammunition down the wings, while Robbie Keane has been asked to fill the 'Francesco Totti' role behind Kevin Doyle up front.
John O'Shea is likely to be handed his first start under Trapattoni and should still be on a high having lifted the UEFA Champions League with Manchester United just eight days ago.
Crystal Palace youngster Sean Scannell will be hoping to make his international debut at some stage, while Dean Kiely makes a rare start between the sticks in the continued absence of Shay Given.
Robbie Keane’s 33rd International goal earned victory for the Republic of Ireland in a friendly against Colombia tonight at Craven Cottage, London, sealing a first win for manager Giovanni Trapattoni.
The Colombians dominated for long passages of the match but the brilliance of Dean Kiely ensured they were held scoreless.
Ireland achieved a win that was fortunate on the run of play but reflected credit on all concerned.
The work ethic was outstanding, the organisation and application in the second half exemplary and while Ireland suffered by comparison to the technically more advanced Colombia counterparts they walked off with a win that will have encouraged players and management team considerably.
New Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni urged his defence to retain concentration tonight in the light of conceding a disappointing goal in his first game against Serbia on Saturday.
John O’Shea was brought in to replace Stephen Kelly in the only change to the back-four and, as a unit, the rearguard looked steady.
Paul McShane was dominant in the air throughout and showed signs of developing a partnership with Richard Dunne in central defence.
Man of the match Dean Kiely, earning his 10th cap, reflected on the game in his post-match interview. The West Brom stopper said: “It was a good night for me. I’m pleased to keep a clean sheet but getting the win was more important. It sends everyone home happy
“We had to defend for large periods of the game but we’re not going to go out every game and play expansive, free-flowing football.”
Ireland opened on a very positive note and were immediately hunting around the Colombian penalty area in search of an early breakthrough.
They almost had one within a minute when Andy Keogh robbed bull-back Gonzalez on the right wing and ran clear before crossing into a penalty area that had Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle attacking the ball. It was fractionally too high for both and carried across the penalty area.
Less than sixty seconds later, Ireland had the lead. Liam Miller made use of a stray attempted clearance out of defence and his instant pass found Keane inside the area. Ireland’s record goal-scorer headed for goal and his shot squeezed off the bodies of two covering defenders before crossing the goal-line.
Ireland needed that goal because they struggled to contain a slick Colombia team once the South Americans settled into their stride.
Colombia had obviously been taken by surprise by Ireland's energetic start for they soon showed they had the skill and the ability to give Ireland major problems.
Once they curbed Ireland's early push they grew in stature and in effect and as they gained control of midfield so they emerged as a very potent striking force.
Torres in central midfield was the key to their smooth team-work for he was hugely influential against Ireland's midfield of Liam Miller and Glenn Whelan.
The Colombia opened up the Irish defence with accurate passing and clever movement off the ball and the scoring chances fell their way regularly.
Escobar was in when Damien Delaney slipped on a surface made slick by constant rain but his shot lacked power and the alert Dean Kiely saved comfortably.
Kiely exhibited his class when he clawed away a powerful header from Escobar on the half hour mark minute following a cross from the right from Bustos and Ireland had a remarkable escape in the 33rd minute.
A Colombia corner caused Ireland problems and when the ball was met in the air by Garcia his glancing header was angled away from Kiely who was relieved to find that Miller was covering on the goal-line. Miller knocked the ball to safety.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, the outstanding Kiely belied his 37 years with two acrobatic saves in the one incident.
First he stretched across his goal-line to palm away a shot from Garcia and he was back on his feet in an instant to dive back towards his goal-line and punch away a follow-up shot from Perea.
Colombia, predictably, were more inventive and more constructive in their football and Ireland had to work extremely hard to try and suppress them.
But the lack of control in midfield and of a constructive passing force in this area meant that strikers Keane and Doyle were given few opportunities to help relieve the pressure on Ireland.
The biggest encouragement from Ireland's first win under Trapattoni was the manner in which the defence was tightened up for the second half.
Clearly Trapattoni's half-time talk did wonders for Ireland's midfield were much more balanced and cohesive after the interval.
The result was that the Colombian attacks which had been processed with great penetration in the first half were suddenly stifled as soon as they got near Ireland's penalty area.
The two lines of massed defenders in front of Ireland's penalty box meant that Colombia had no room to work their magic.
They maintained possession for swathes of the contest but, importantly, they found it extremely difficult to get a clear sight of goal and goalkeeper Dean Kiely had a much more quiet time in the second half.
He was obliged to make one other stunning save in the 61st minute. A neat piece of interplay between Escobar and Perea on the left of the penalty area ended with the latter finding room to get in a shot which Kiely smothered and held expertly by the butt of an upright.
This was important for it gave Ireland the confidence to get tighter to the Colombia strikers and they were not as composed or as effective as they had been.
A free from 25 yards from Guerin was driven over the bar and as Colombia proceeded to make six substitutions so Ireland clamped ever more tightly on their attack.
There were claims for a penalty from the Irish players on 68 minutes when Aiden McGeady was bundled over on the right side of the penalty area.
Referee Mark Clattenburg took a look at the collision but deemed it legal and a chance for doubling the Irish advantage from the spot was gone.
Republic of Ireland: Kiely (West Brom); O’Shea (Manchester United), Dunne (Manchester City), McShane (Sunderland), Delaney (QPR); Duff (Newcastle United), Miller (Sunderland), Whelan (Stoke City), McGeady (Celtic); Doyle (Reading), Keane (Tottenham Hotspur) - captain.
Subs: Daryl Murphy (Sunderland) for Doyle (85 mins), Wes Hoolahan (Blackpool) for Keogh (90 mins)
Colombia: R. Zapata, C. Zapata, Bustos (Vallejo 46), L. Perea (Morena 66), Gonzalez (Armero 70), Guarin, Sanchez, Escobar (Sota 63), Torres (Hernandez 73), E. Perea, Garcia (Polo 65).
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (ENG).