Irish ease past Cyprus
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Republic of Ireland beat Cyprus 3-0 in Dublin in Group Four.Republic of Ireland got their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a perfect start with a comfortable 3-0 win over Cyprus in Dublin.
Goals from Clinton Morrison, Andy Reid and Robbie Keane - his 21st for his country - were enough to get Brian Kerr's men off and running in Group Four.
The hosts started brightly and Kevin Kilbane had the first noteworthy effort on goal with a header just wide of the target.
Andy Reid created a golden opportunity for Morrison on 13 minutes with a free kick from the left, but the Birmingham striker could not get his header on target.
The same two combined nine minutes later with Morrison sending his diving header straight at Nicos Panagiotou.
Ireland were laying siege to the Cyprus goal and John O'Shea tried his luck from the edge of the box with a fierce shot which Panagiotou tipped round the post.
Panagiotou denied Ireland the opener on 32 minutes when Kilbane found himself free inside the box after Graham Kavanagh's free kick, but the goalkeeper stood up well to keep out the Everton star's shot with his legs.
Ireland broke the deadlock a minute later with Damien Duff picking out Morrison inside the box and he glanced his header expertedly into the bottom corner for his first international goal in almost a year.
The impressive Reid forced Panagiotou into a good save on 37 minutes with a fine free kick wide on the right which the keeper pushed over the crossbar.
Reid did find a way past Panagiotou a minute later with a brilliant swerving strike from fully 30 yards into the top right-hand corner to put Ireland in total control.
Ireland were almost caught napping seconds later when Michalis Konstantinou got clear of the home defence and with Shay Given out of his goal the Panathinaikos striker fizzed his shot just wide of the gaping net.
The second half continued in the same pattern as the first with Ireland totally on top and Kilbane and Morrison both had early efforts at goal which failed to trouble Panagiotou.
Keane equalled Niall Quinn's 21-goal record for the Republic on 55 minutes when converting from the penalty spot after Damien Duff had been felled in the area by Georgios Theodotou.
The redundant Given was called into action on 64 minutes when Konstantinou showed persistence to burst past Kenny Cunningham and fire in a shot which Given did well to flick round the post.
Duff came close to adding to the lead on 66 minutes with a fine run past a couple of Cypriot defenders into the box, but he saw his shot saved by the legs of Panagiotou.
The Chelsea man was denied getting his name on the scoresheert six minutes later when he produced an acrobatic bicycle kick from Stephen Carr's cross only for Panagiotou to keep out his shot somehow.
Substitute Alan Lee was denied a goal six minutes from time with a fierce shot which Panagiotou did well to turn round the post.
Kerr will be happy with his side's victory and sends them in good heart for their second qualifier with Switzerland in four days.
| ||Rep of Ireland||Cyprus|| |
|Shots on target||12||1|| |
|Shots off target||4||4|| |
|Blocked shots||2||1|| |
|Yellow cards||0||3|| |
|Red cards||0||0|| |