Republic push on at Aviva
Republic of Ireland saw off Andorra 3-1 in their first competitive match at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday.
Last Updated: 07/09/10 10:25pm
Republic of Ireland saw off Andorra 3-1 in their first competitive match at the Aviva Stadium to top the early Group B qualification table.
Stalwart Kevin Kilbane lost his marker to head home the opener after 14 minutes from Liam Lawrence's corner.
Kevin Doyle then extended the lead with four minutes of the first half remaining with an exquisite strike after dispossessing Sergi Moreno.
But Christian Martinez stunned the home side a minute before the interval with a great effort into the top corner which gave Shay Given no chance.
However, Ireland skipper Robbie Keane ensured they would be no upset when he slotted home on 54 minutes to extend his national record tally to 44 on his 102nd appearance after a fine passing move by Giovanni Trapattoni's side.
The victory means the Irish top the early Group B table on goal difference after two wins out of two.
The margin of victory may not have been wide enough for some among a crowd of 40,283, but six points from a possible six on a night when group favourites Russia had earlier lost at home to Slovakia represented mission accomplished.
And there was also the welcome sight of winger Aiden McGeady terrorising defences in a green shirt once again to celebrate as Ireland turned their attention to the much more taxing double-header against Russia and Slovakia next month.
Few who arrived to witness the first events at the newly-refurbished stadium expected anything other than an Irish victory, and a comfortable one at that with Andorra's largely part-time team ranked 201st in the world.
For 44 of the opening 45 minutes, they were not disappointed as the Republic, for once cast in the role of favourite, took the game by the scruff of the neck.
True, they did not carve out dozens of clear-cut chances, but this is Trapattoni's team, one based on defensive resilience and the ability to prevail in tight encounters through organisation, commitment and sheer bloody-mindedness.
They were ahead as early as the 14th minute when Kilbane timed his run to glance Lawrence's near-post corner past keeper Josep Antoni Gomes and set the ball rolling.
Lawrence later chipped into the side-netting after embarrassing defender Marc Bernaus, Andorra's only full-time professional, but although McGeady toyed with full-back and by trade, estate agent, Jordi Escura, Andorra managed to keep their hosts at bay.
However, Ireland eventually extended their lead four minutes before the break, and did so in some style.
Lawrence caught midfielder Moreno, who had earlier almost left keeper Given red-faced with a wickedly bouncing long-range effort, in possession and sensing an opportunity, Doyle arrived to add weight to the ambush.
When the ball finally emerged at the striker's feet, he set himself before smashing a curling left-foot shot beyond the diving Gomes and into the top corner.
The die looked to have been cast, but Andorra were not quite ready to throw in the towel, and Martinez drilled a half-volley past the astonished Given a minute before half-time to keep the game alive.
That would not have amused Trapattoni or his players as they sipped their half-time tea, and there was a renewed determination about them on their return.
Their response was swift and stylish as the third goal arrived with just nine minutes of the half gone.
McGeady headed in-field once again and played one-twos with Paul Green and Doyle before setting up Keane in the box.
Having fluffed his lines in the 1-0 win over Armenia on Friday evening, the Tottenham striker was not about to pass up another glorious opportunity and duly obliged with a deft finish to make the game safe.
It now seemed only a matter of by how many Ireland would win, and Keane was licking his lips when Doyle appeared to be hauled to the ground inside the box by defender Jose Fernando Silva 13 minutes later.
However, to the astonishment of both men, Cypriot referee Leontios Trattou waved their claims away.But with the job done, the clock ran down with little prospect of a fightback from Andorra and no need for a cavalry charge from Ireland.
|Republic of Ireland||Team Statistics||Andorra|
|2||1st Half Goals||1|
|5||Shots on Target||3|
|8||Shots off Target||0|