BBC Sport football


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 21:45 GMT, Saturday, 26 March 2011

Rep of Ireland 2-1 Macedonia

Aiden McGeady celebrates with team-mates after scoring the opener
Aiden McGeady celebrates with team-mates after scoring the opener

By Alvin McCaig

The Republic of Ireland 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.

Darren O'Dea beats Ilco Naumoski to the high ball in the qualifier
Darren O'Dea beats Ilco Naumoski to the high ball in the qualifier

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)

Print Sponsor

see also
Wolves rocked by injury to Doyle
28 Mar 11 |  Wolves
Duff relief after Dublin victory
26 Mar 11 |  Football
Keane out to prolong Irish career
25 Mar 11 |  Irish
Keane returns to Republic squad
14 Mar 11 |  Football
West Ham bring in Keane on loan
30 Jan 11 |  West Ham
Republic of Ireland 1-2 Norway
17 Nov 10 |  Irish
Slovakia 1-1 Republic of Ireland
12 Oct 10 |  Football

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites