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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 March 2007, 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK
Republic of Ireland 1-0 Slovakia
Kevin Doyle (left) challenges Martin Skrtel
Kevin Doyle scored for the Republic in the 12th minute
Kevin Doyle's first-half goal kept the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2008 qualification hopes alive as the home side defeated Slovakia at Croke Park.

The Republic produced a much-improved display from the win over Wales with Doyle heading home a free-kick from the superb Damien Duff on 12 minutes.

Shay Given made good saves to deny Robert Vittek while Marek Sapara missed another great Slovak chance.

But sub Shane Long could have added to the Republic's lead in the second half.

Slovakia produced the first attack with Vittek's shot testing Shay Given in the second minute.

However, it soon became clear that this was going to be a much-improved display from the Republic after the struggle against Wales.

Duff was showing his all his skills on the left flank while Stephen Ireland's central midfield partnership with Lee Carsley gave the Republic a shape that had been lacking last weekend.

The Republic's goal came in the 12th minute with Doyle superbly outjumping Martin Skrtel to head home Duff's free-kick following Vratislav Gresko's foul on Carsley.

The goal lifted the 70,000 crowd who were in good voice in contrast to the subdued nature of Saturday's Croke Park atmosphere.

Damien Duff (right) battles with Maros Klimpl at Croke Park
Damien Duff had a fine game for the Republic at Croke Park

However, the Republic had a scare in the 17th minute when Marek Sapara glanced a header wide from a great position after Dusan Svento's left-wing cross.

The Republic came under further pressure with Given diving in the 24th minute to turn a 25-yard drive from Vittek out for a corner.

However, the home side wasted a great chance to extend their lead in the 32nd minute when Doyle shot weakly instead of passing to the unmarked Duff who was screaming for the ball on the edge of the penalty area.

Slovakia began to take a grip on the game after half-time and they had a penalty shout turned down in the 58th minute after Martin Jakubko had tangled with Paul McShane in the box.

Ireland had been less of a midfield factor in the second half and he was replaced by Stephen Hunt with 20 minutes to go after picking up a knock.

606: DEBATE

Another substitute, Long almost doubled the Republic advantage in the 78th minute but his header was cleared off the line by Gresko.

Long missed an even better chance two minutes later when he headed Hunt's superb cross wide from point-blank range.

At the other end, Given made one late point-blank save from Filip Holosko to keep the Republic ahead as the Slovaks pressed.

However, Given, the outstanding Richard Dunne and the other Republic defenders held firm to take further pressure off Steve Staunton and ensure four successive wins in the group for the Irish.


Rep of Ireland: Given, O'Shea, Finnan, McShane, Dunne, Carsley, Ireland (Hunt 70), McGeady (Quinn 87), Kilbane, Duff, Kevin Doyle (Long 74).
Subs Not Used: Colgan, Douglas, Kelly, Stokes.

Goals: Kevin Doyle 13.

Slovakia: Contofalsky, Singlar (Sestak 79), Skrtel, Klimpl, Gresko, Svento (Michalik 87), Zofcak, Borbely, Sapara (Holosko 72), Vittek, Jakubko.
Subs Not Used: Hajduch, Strba, Cech, Kozak.

Booked: Klimpl.

Att: 71,297

Ref: Yuri Baskakov (Russia).



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