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15.10.2008 at 19:45 Croke Park Attendance: 53500
Republic of Ireland 1 - 0 Cyprus
Referee: Alexandru Dan Tudor World Cup Qualifier / PROG-match

Robbie Keane (5)
Opening squads
Shay Given
John O'Shea
Richard Dunne
Paul Mc Shane
Glen Whelan
Kevin Kilbane
Darron Gibson
Aidan Mc Geady
Damien Duff
Kevin Doyle
Robbie Keane
Antonis Georgallides
Michalis Konstantinou
Giannakis Okkas
Dimitris Christofi
Lambros Lambrou
Ilias Charalambous
Alexis Garpozis
Andreas Constantinou
Christos Maragos
Marios Elia
Constantinos Makrides
Dean Kiely
Damien Delaney
Liam Miller
Steve Hunt
Andy Reid
Caleb Folan
Andrew Keogh
Michalis Morfis
Koullis Pavlou
Andreas Papathanasiou
Giasemis Giasemi
Georgos Panagi
Sofronis Augustis
Caleb Folan -> Kevin Doyle (91)
Andreas Papathanasiou for Lambrou 45 mins;
Georgos Panagi for Maragos 52 mins;
Yellow cards
None. Marios Elia 24 mins;
Andreas Constantinou 45 mins;
Giasemis Giasemi for Michalis Konstantinou 79 mins;
Red cards
None. None
Other statistics
0 Shots 0
0 Shots on goal 0
0 Offsides 0
0 Corner kicks 0
0 Free kicks 0
0 Penalties 0
Match report | Preview
Rep of Ireland 1 Greece 0
Match 441,

Match Report
Captain Robbie Keane added to his record goal-scoring tally as Republic of Ireland maintained their impressive start to their World Cup qualifying campaign with a nervy 1-0 victory over Cyprus at Croke Park.

Keane claimed the 35th goal of his international career as Giovanni Trapattoni's revitalised side took their points tally to seven from three games to stay second in Group E behind Italy.

It took Ireland just five minutes to find the winning goal as Liverpool striker Keane, winning his 85th cap, headed in from close range following a fine run and cross from the impressive Damien Duff.

But they struggled to build on that and with Aiden McGeady missing an inviting second-half chance the Irish were relieved to hang on and avoid a repeat of the draw Cyprus achieved on their last visit to Dublin as Shay Given was forced to make a vital late save.

That result and Cyprus's 5-2 demolition of Ireland in a European Championship qualifier a year earlier in October 2006 have burnt deep into the national psyche.

The fact that Angelos Anastasiades's side returned to Dublin with only one point to show for their efforts against Italy and Georgia in their opening games in this competition when they might have emerged with all six did little to quell the sense of uneasiness ahead of kick-off.

But Trapattoni, who now boasts an unbeaten six-match start to his Irish reign, was handed a boost shortly before kick-off when winger Efstathios Aloneftis, a man he had singled out as a major threat, was forced to withdraw after the warm-up, resolving in an instant the headache over whether to play Paul McShane at right-back or move John O'Shea across.

While all eyes may have been on midfielder Darron Gibson, a controversial replacement for the injured Steven Reid, it was two more established members of the Republic side which set the tone for the night.

Where Cyprus had embarrassed the Irish with their slick inter-play and movement on their last two meetings, wingers Duff and Aiden McGeady took up the challenge of pinning the visitors back inside their own half, and did so to good effect during the opening 45 minutes.

It was they who combined to hand Keane the chance to give his side a dream start with just five minutes gone when the Celtic man picked out Duff and he supplied the perfect right-foot cross for Keane to head unopposed into the empty net.

But the torment did not end there for a strangely subdued Cyprus team with Duff shooting straight at Giorgallides after 17 minutes and McGeady forcing him to beat away a stinging drive 10 minutes later.

However, it was defender Andreas Constantinou who almost unwittingly doubled Ireland's tally 10 minutes before the break when his attempt to block a McGeady cross sent the ball looping over his own keeper, although Elia bravely headed off the line under intense pressure from Duff.

For their part, the visitors were a shadow of the team which had wrought such havoc in the past, although Given had to make a superb reaction save from striker Konstantinou after Duff had sliced Konstantinos Makridis' 15th-minute cross high into the Dublin sky.

Anastasiades' response was to shuffle his pack, with Andreas Papathanasiou coming on for late replacement Lambros Lambrou at the break and Georgios Panagi following him seven minutes later.

However, it was the home side who continued to hold the upper hand, although

Richard Dunne had to make a solid block to prevent Given from having to deal with Christofi's well-struck 50th-minute volley.

The Manchester City defender came to the rescue again eight minutes later, denying Konstantinou after Makridis and Papathanasiou had opened up Ireland for the first time in the game.

Cyprus, with newcomers Papathanasiou and Panagi particularly prominent, were starting to find their range to stretch Ireland repeatedly.

But McGeady could, and perhaps should, have calmed the nerves with 15 minutes remaining when he was handed the chance to cap an enterprising night in style.

Glenn Whelan picked him out in space on the right and with Giorgallides advancing, he chipped the ball over him with the outside of his right-foot, only to see it sail agonisingly just over the crossbar.

The ever-industrious Kevin Doyle forced a one-handed save from Giorgallides with six minutes remaining but it was Given who excelled himself once again at the death, blocking Christofi's goalbound drive with his legs.

Giorgallides kept out Duff in injury-time after Keane had launched a counter-attack from his own half but just as the tension became almost unbearable the final whistle brought welcome relief.

Italy 4 10
Rep of Ireland 3 7
Bulgaria 3 3
Montenegro 3 2
Georgia 4 2
Cyprus 3 1

Giovanni Trapattoni's men continued their fruitful start in Group 8 with Robbie Keane's early goal earning a win in their first outing in front of their home fans.

Keane winner
Ireland were eager to make amends for poor UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying results against Cyprus – they picked up a single point from a draw in Dublin and a 5-2 defeat in Nicosia – and they wasted no time here. Damien Duff burst past Lambros Lambrou into the Cyprus area after four minutes and chipped a perfect cross over goalkeeper Antonis Giorgallides to the back post for Robbie Keane to head the only goal into an empty net.

Irish chances
Shay Given had to make a point-blank stop from Michael Konstantinou, who had scored twice in the thrashing in Nicosia, to keep Ireland in front before Duff forced Giorgallides into his first save. Aiden McGeady also stung the palms of the keeper later in the half while Lambrou's sliced clearance was headed off the line by Marios Elia to avoid a further setback for Angelos Anastasiades's side.

Desperate defending
Konstantinou was denied an equaliser by a last-ditch tackle from Richard Dunne, before Giorgallides kept out Kevin Doyle at full stretch as the Republic looked to seal their victory. Demetris Christofi was presented with the best chance of a leveller late on but Dunne again spread himself to block the effort. Ireland now have seven points from three qualifiers, leaving them three adrift of leaders Italy with a game in hand. Cyprus have a solitary point in Georgia to show for their three outings.
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