Republic on course for Euro 2012
Republic of Ireland kept alive their hopes of securing a play-off spot in Group B with a 2-0 win over Andorra.
Last Updated: 07/10/11 10:56pm
Republic of Ireland kept alive their hopes of securing a play-off spot from Euro 2012 Group B with a 2-0 win over Andorra.
Kevin Doyle eased the nerves of Giovanni Trapattoni's men when he put them ahead from close range early on.
Aiden McGeady made it two after 20 minutes when his effort took a deflection off Ildefons Lima as they took a vice like grip of the game.
The result kept them two points behind Russia who maintained their position at the top of the group with a slender win over Slovakia.
Armenia will now travel to the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday to complete the final round of qualifying fixtures, with the Irish knowing that one point will be enough to see them reach the play-offs.
However, Trapattoni will be without left-back Stephen Ward after he picked up his second yellow card of the campaign, and with Kevin Kilbane injured, that presents the manager with a selection headache.
Ward's misfortune aside, Trapattoni will have been happy enough with what he saw at the tiny Estadi Comunal as the Republic recorded an eighth successive clean sheet.
They arrived in Andorra la Vella knowing anything other than a routine victory could prove fatal to their hopes of making it to next summer's finals, and equally aware that even a maximum six-point haul from their final two games might only be good enough to book a play-off place.
In the event, the prospect of anything other than an away victory effectively vanished within 20 minutes as Trapattoni's men took the game by the scruff of the neck.
Andorra's part-timers might have been behind as early as the second minute had Lima not blocked Robbie Keane's shot, and keeper Josep Gomes was a relieved man two minutes later when, after he had spilled the Ireland skipper's initial effort, his follow-up crashed against the crossbar.
Gomes' clean sheet lasted just three minutes further.
Doyle unwittingly blocked Keane's goal-bound shot, but was alert enough to react first when John O'Shea headed the ball back into the danger area and claim his 10th senior international goal from close range.
The Republic extended their lead with 20 minutes gone as left winger McGeady, who gave full-back Alexandre Martinez a torrid time throughout, was the beneficiary of Glenn Whelan's clever free-kick, which completely wrong-footed the Andorran defence.
McGeady had time and space to drill across goal and although Gomes managed to make a partial block, the ball was deflected home by Lima.
Andorra offered little as an attacking threat, although central defender Emili Garcia had earlier headed over from a Sergio Moreno free-kick and Lima tested Given with a firmly-struck free-kick.
The only disappointment for Ireland was Ward's 31st-minute caution for diving and the wider consequences for both the player and his team.
Ireland returned knowing the points were all but secure, but equally aware that there was no room for complacency.
They would have killed off the game for certain had it not been for Gomes, who blocked Keane's 48th-minute effort and then tipped McGeady's stinging drive onto the post two minutes later.
Opposite number Shay Given had to make a regulation 59th minute save from Alexandre Martinez after Sean St Ledger had misjudged a high ball, but Ireland should really have gone further ahead within two minutes.
Damien Duff forced his way into the penalty area and managed to bundle the ball through to Keane seven yards from goal.
The 31-year-old pivoted, but somehow managed to blaze high over with the goal at his mercy.
Trapattoni made changes as he attempted to conserve energy in the likes of Whelan, Doyle and Duff, but with Keith Fahey, Shane Long and Stephen Hunt freshening things up, the visitors continued to dominate.
O'Shea went close with a 74th-minute header from a Duff corner, heading just over the angle of post and crossbar, but Ireland were in a comfort zone.Long headed just wide from Keane's 84th-minute cross as Ireland coasted in to the final whistle having ensured they remain masters of their own destiny.
|Andorra||Team Statistics||Republic of Ireland|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|2||Shots on Target||6|
|2||Shots off Target||11|