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The BBC's Jonathan Overend
"Mick McCarthy did well to raise a team"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
Greeks grateful for Given gift

Ireland could find no way through the Greek defence
Republic of Ireland 0-1 Greece

Injury-ravaged Republic of Ireland slumped to a 1-0 home defeat after Shay Given committed a goakeeping howler in the friendly at Lansdowne Road.

The Newcastle keeper was totally deceived by an under-strength shot from Vassilios Lakis and was left clutching fresh air as the ball crossed the line.

The Irish clearly suffered the loss of nine first-choice players, including captain Roy Keane, as end-of-season injuries wreacked havoc with their starting line-up, which included three new caps.


Keane
Captain Keane was missing from action
And manager Mick McCarthy revealed he was pleased with his new-look team's effort on a testing day.

"For a transitional team that is a creditable performance and the lads who made their debuts can be pleased," McCarthy said.

"I'm disappointed with the result because I don't like losing, especially at Lansdowne Road - but that's the only disappointment for me."

Despite McCarthy's depleted resources, the Republic got off to an encouraging start - but they fell behind when Greece scored out of the blue in the 15th minute.

There appeared little threat even after Lakis collected Vassilios Tsartas' long crossfield pass on the right flank and cut inside Steve Staunton.

But his mis-hit shot wrong-footed Shay Given and bobbled into the middle of the net to leave the Newcastle keeper red-faced.



Shay was on the move and the ball swerved in the air. But Shay's not happy with it - it was a disappointing goal.

Mick McCarthy
A sublime back-heel from Robbie Keane on the by-line almost created an equaliser, but Mark Kinsella's fierce shot was blocked by Newcastle's Greek defender Nikos Dabizas.

The Irish pushed on in the later stages of the first half, but Sunderland's Kevin Kilbane saw a header kept out at full stretch by Greek keeper Antonios Nikopolidis.

The home side suffered a personnel blow after 33 minutes when Coventry debutant Barry Quinn, who had made a bright start to his international career, was forced off after a clash with Ilias Poursanidis and was replaced by Rory Delap.

Luckless Irish striker David Connolly almost forced the ball home in a hectic goalmouth scramble in first-half stoppage time.

Keeper switch

Given paid the price for his blunder for the goal when he was withdrawn at half-time, McCarthy chosing instead to give Dean Kiely a chance in goal for the second period.

Kinsella, behind so much of Ireland's best work, tried his luck from long range at every opportunity - but there was no way through for the home side.



I was surprised by the pace of the game. I thought the Premier League was fast, but that was a step up again.

Debutant Richard Dunne of Everton
The best chance of the night for the Irish fell to Fulham winger Steve Finnan, making his first international appearance, after 60 minutes.

Robbie Keane created the opening with a neat angled through-ball but Finnan, with just the keeper to beat, suffered an attack of first-night nerves and stabbed his shot wide of the right-hand post.

Six minutes later another new cap, Tranmere's Alan Mahon, sent over a cross for Kinsella - but a header from the Charlton man was well saved by Nikopolidis and Keane was unable to net the rebound.


Teams:

Rep of Ireland: Given, Cunningham, R Dunne, Breen, Staunton, B Quinn, Finnan, Kinsella, Kilbane, R. Keane, Connolly.
Subs: Maybury, Doherty, Mahon, Delap, Butler, Kiely.

Greece: Nikopolidis, Basinas, Venetidis, Dabizas, Ouzounidis, Poursanidis, Georgiadis, Amanatidis, Liberopoulos, Tsartas, Lakis.
Subs: Mavrogenidis, Goumas, Zikos, Eleftheropoulos, Nalitzis, Niniadis, T. Kiparissis.

Referee: Hugh Dallas (Scotland)

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