Mar 27, 2011

Rep of Ireland 2-1 Macedonia

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 The Republic moved joint top of their Euro 2012 qualifying group after an unconvincing win in Dublin.

Aiden McGeady's low strike gave the Irish a second minute lead before Robbie Keane stabbed in after a blunder from keeper Edin Nuredoniski. The Republic were in control but Ivan Trickovski pulled one back with a classy finish just before the break. Goran Pandev volleyed wide and Keiran Westwood denied Trickovski as the Republic held on for the three points.

Westwood, Kevin Foley and Darren O'Dea made their competitive debuts for the Republic in front of a far from capacity crowd at the Aviva Stadium. Just 84 seconds had elapsed when McGeady cut inside and fired in a low shot which Nuredinoski should have kept out, but instead he merely helped the ball on its way into the net. Nuredoniski was now a nervy keeper and he fumbled a Damien Duff strike before collecting at the second attempt.

Keane just failed to get a touch on a downward header from Kevin Doyle, who was forced off after 16 minutes with a knee injury and replaced by Shane Long. Nuredoniski was at fault again for the second goal after 21 minutes, spilling Darron Gibson's free-kick and Keane reacted quickest to slot in from two yards out. The Republic were dominating affairs Long should have made it three but instead sliced wide with just Nuredoniski to beat.

Trickovski sent a dipping shot just wide with Macedonia's first decent attack on 32 minutes and he made no mistake with a second effort in the final seconds of half. The striker left Richard Dunne in his wake as he cut inside, before sliding the ball beyond Westwood and into the far corner. Macedonia came close to equalising three minutes into the second half with Inter Milan striker Pandev volleying just wide from Goran Popov's cross.

Boban Grncarov was lucky to escape a red card when his raised foot caught Long's head, with referee Istvan Vad brandishing a yellow as Long had his wound bandaged. This was now an even contest and the Republic were no longer the attacking force of the first half. Westwood came to the Republic's rescue with 15 minutes left, rushing out to block Trickovski's shot after the forward's instant control from a long ball gave him a clear strike on goal.

Robbie Keane saw his shot deflected wide with three minutes left before he was replaced by Wigan's James McCarthy, making his competitive debut for the Irish. The Republic are level on 10 points with Slovakia and Russia, who slipped up with a scoreless draw in Armenia.

Republic of Ireland: Westwood, Foley, O'Dea, Dunne, Kilbane, McGeady, Whelan, Gibson, Duff, Doyle, Keane. Subs: Forde, Kelly, McCarthy, Long, Clark, Lawrence, Fahey.

FYR Macedonia: Nuredinovski, Sikov, Noveski, Grncarov, Popov, Sumulikoski, Trickovski, Demiri, Tasevski, Pandev, Naumoski. Subs: Bogatinov, Mitreski, Georgievski, Ristic, Despotovski, Lazevski, Gjurovski.

Referee: Istvan Vad (Hungary)



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