Keane gives Ireland victory
Robbie Keane struck early on as Republic of Ireland secured their first win under Giovanni Trapattoni.
By James Pearson
Last Updated: 29/05/08 10:15pm
Robbie Keane struck early on as Republic of Ireland secured their first win under Giovanni Trapattoni with a 1-0 success over Colombia.
The Craven Cottage match was billed as an international friendly, but it was anything but with both sides showing great desire and commitment to give fans a spectacle to remember.
Although Colombia made the brighter start to the contest Keane fired Trapattoni's side ahead just three minutes in when his deflected effort bounced in after good work by Liam Miller.
Colombia responded in style, although in Ireland keeper Dean Kiely, they found a shot-stopper in inspired fashion as he repeatedly blocked everything the South Americans threw at him.
The chances dried up somewhat after half-time as the tempo of the game dropped, although it mattered little for Trapattoni as he was left celebrating Ireland's first win in eight fixtures.
Trapattoni was dealt a blow before kick-off when Damien Duff was forced to drop out after suffering severe sinusitis, although that gave a chance to Andy Keogh, whose late equaliser on Saturday against Serbia confirmed his emergence as an international striker.
Ireland took the lead with only three minutes gone when Miller's tenacity allowed him to feed Keane on the edge of the box and his shot was deflected past keeper Robinson Zapata by Elvis Gonzalez.
With Keane and Kevin Doyle linking well in attack and Keogh and Aiden McGeady repeatedly swapping wings to keep the South Americans guessing, Trapattoni's men put the Colombian defence under pressure on several occasions with the Tottenham man curling a 13th-minute shot just wide of the far post.
However, Kiely's goal came under threat at regular intervals as Colombia launched a concerted fightback.
The keeper had to make a fine save to keep out Juan Escobar's bullet header on the half-hour, and then in injury-time, pulled off a superb double stop to deny first Radamel Garcia and then Edixon Perea.
In the meantime, Miller and Richard Dunne had cleared off the line from Garcia and Fredy Guarin, respectively, to preserve Kiely's clean sheet.
The game resumed as the first half had started, at a furious pace with Colombia surging forward in numbers, but Ireland's more patient approach allowing them to establish position in enemy territory, although without ever looking like testing the keeper.
However, Cristian Zapata had to get in a good 55th-minute block to deny McGeady as the winger cut inside from the left and let fly with his right foot.
But Kiely was in action again with 61 minutes gone to keep out Macnelly Torres's fizzing left-foot drive after he had been played in by Edixon Perea.
Colombia battered away as the clock ran down with substitute Giovanni Hernandez playing a glittering cameo role, but with the men in front of Kiely protecting him better than they had earlier in the game, Ireland rarely looked like surrendering their lead.
|Republic of Ireland||Team Statistics||Colombia|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||9|
|2||Shots off Target||9|