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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 June, 2005, 22:55 GMT 23:55 UK
Rep of Ireland 2-2 Israel
Andy Reid (centre) set up Robbie Keane's goal
The Republic of Ireland's World Cup hopes suffered a huge blow when they squandered a two-goal lead to gift a point to Israel in Dublin.

Ian Harte's free-kick and Robbie Keane's delightful finish put the Republic 2-0 up within 11 minutes.

However Israel levelled before half-time thanks to Avi Yehiel's bullet header and Avi Nimni's penalty.

The Irish missed a host of second half chances and to compound their misery, had Andy O'Brien sent off late on.

Brian Kerr's side should perhaps have gone ahead inside three minutes, however Greek referee Kyros Vassaras opted not to point to the spot when Keane was clipped in the area by Ariel Benado.

However, the Republic were in front three minutes later when recalled Harte curled a superb free-kick after Adoram Keisi had been adjudged to have fouled Kevin Kilbane seven yards outside the area.

The Republic seemed assured of victory when Keane delightfully stroked in his 25th goal for his country in the 11th minute after running onto Andy Reid's long-ball over the top of the Israeli defence.

Keane had the ball in the net again in the 25th minute but his effort was correctly ruled out for offside.

That was Keane's last involvement in the game and his departure led to marked deterioration in the Republic's performance.

With Graham Kavanagh now on, Kevin Kilbane was moved out wide to the left, with Damien Duff sitting in behind Morrison but it quickly became obvious that Kerr's side had lost its shape.

Kevin Kilbane tries to make a break down the Irish left
Kevin Kilbane switched to the left wing midway through the first half

The visitors were right back in the game in the 39th minute when debutant Avi Yehiel's brilliant header from the edge of the penalty area left Shay Given with no chance.

Then in injury time Greek referee Kyros Vassaras ruled that John O'Shea had held Benayoun in the penalty area and although Avi Nimni were forced to take the penalty twice, the result was the same on both occasions with Given beaten.

The Republic laid siege to the Israeli goal for most of the second half but a combination of brilliant goalkeeping from Duda and luck, kept the scoreline at 2-2.

In the 48th minute, Kavanagh's low cross seemed to take Duff by surprise with the ball rebounding off the side of the Chelsea star's head into Awat's grateful arms.

John O'Shea then had a glorious chance with a pointblank header but once again Awat somehow blocked the effort.

Substitute Gary Doherty, on for Andy Reid, powered a header inches wide in the 79th minute as the Republic opted for route one in an attempt to break down the Israelis.

Awat then somehow saved at Duff's feet and moment later O'Brien was harshly sent off after he had reacted to being struck by the Israeli goalkeeper.

At that stage of the match, Awat's time-wasting antics were infuriating both the Irish players and the home supporters in the 34,000 crowd.

The frantic seven minutes of injury-time saw Ireland continuing to press but the Israelis somehow held on for a point.


Rep of Ireland: Given, O'Shea, O'Brien, Cunningham, Harte, Andy Reid, Holland, Kilbane, Duff, Robbie Keane, Morrison. Subs: Steven Reid, Miller, Lee, Kavanagh, Kenny, Elliott, Doherty.

Israel: Awat, Yehiel, Benado, Gershon, Saban, Keisi, Soan, Tal, Nimni, Katan, Benayoun. Subs: Harazi, Balili, Chen, Revivo, Golan, Afek, Davidovitch.

Referee: Kyros Vassaras (Greece)




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Ireland boss Brian Kerr




SEE ALSO
Republic relief over Duff fitness
30 May 05 |  Internationals
Keane clinches win for Republic
29 May 05 |  Celtic


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