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Page last updated at 20:49 GMT, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 21:49 UK

Republic of Ireland 1-0 Cyprus

Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane celebrates his early goal at Croke Park

Robbie Keane's goal helped the Republic of Ireland claim a vital World Cup qualifying win over Cyprus but it was an unconvincing display by the Irish.

Damien Duff set up Keane's fifth-minute goal but Dimitris Christofi missed a great chance to level for Cyprus.

Cyprus dominated after the break and the outstanding Richard Dunne made a series of vital blocks and tackles.

Aiden McGeady and the busy Kevin Doyle had Republic chances but the home fans were happy to hear the final whistle.

The Republic got off to the perfect start with winger Duff drifting infield and beating two challenges before delivering the perfect cross for the unmarked Keane to head into the empty net.

However after their bright opening, the Republic began to lose their way with misplaced passes starting to gift possession to the visitors.

Cyprus should have equalised in the 15th minute when Dimitris Christofi blazed over from five yards out after Shay Given had blocked Michael Constantinou's angled shot following a Duff miskick.

Duff had a half-chance saved by Antonis Georgallides in the 17th minute but Ioannis Okkas tested Given a minute later after he had completely deceived the struggling Paul McShane.

The Irish central midfield was scarcely functioning with surprise selection Darron Gibson and Glenn Whelan largely anonymous.

By the midpoint in the first half, Cyprus were looking more assured in possession although the pace of Duff and Aiden McGeady enabled the Republic to break at speed on a number of occasions.

Kevin Doyle (right) and Marios Elia
The impressive Kevin Doyle (right) battles with Marios Elia

The industrious Doyle was also holding the ball up superbly and bringing Duff and McGeady into the play even though the Republic were largely feeding off scraps.

Against the run of play, the Republic almost grabbed a second goal on 35 minutes when Marios Elia somehow got back to clear off the line after McGeady's cross had looped up off Andreas Constantinou and over keeper Giorgallidis.

Doyle then produced a superb turn to manoeuvre himself into a threatening position on 38 minutes but his left foot shot went just wide.

Half-time came and went with Andy Reid still left on the bench by Giovanni Trapattoni.

The Cypriots dominated possession in the early part of the second half and the Republic needed two last-ditch interventions by the brilliant Dunne to remain ahead.

Firstly, Dunne blocked a Christofi volley on 50 minutes and the Manchester City defender got in a vital tackle eight minutes later to deny Michael Constantinou after the Irish defence had been carved open.

Duff and McGeady were still trying manfully to compete in midfield but they were starting to be outnumbered by the visitors.

With the crowd starting to get edgy, McGeady had a great chance to double the Republic's lead on 75 minutes but his flicked shot was inches over the Cypriot bar.

As Cyprus left gaps at the back, Kevin Doyle was denied by Georgallides after a Republic break while Duff and Whelan also wasted chances.

But Cyprus put the Republic until intense late pressure but Shay Given came to the home side's rescue in the 86th minute with a brave block after Christofi looked certain to score.

Rep of Ireland: Given, O'Shea, McShane, Dunne, Kilbane, McGeady, Gibson, Whelan, Duff, Doyle (Folan 90), Keane. Subs not used: Kiely, Hunt, Miller, Keogh, Andy Reid, Delaney.

Booked: Given, McGeady.

Goals: Keane 5

Cyprus: Georgallides, Elia, Charalambous, Constantinou, Garpozis, Christofi, Makridis, Maragos (Panagi 52), Lambrou (Papathanasiou 45), Okkas, Konstantinou (Yiasoumis 79). Subs not used: Morphis, Pavlou, Avgousti.

Booked: Elia, Constantinou.

Att: 53,500

Referee: Alexandru Dan Tudor (Romania)

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Republic of Ireland's Kevin Doyle 8.10 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

see also
Rep Ireland Player Rater
28 Mar 07 |  Internationals
Trapattoni relieved after victory
15 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Trapattoni rejects Reid row talk
13 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Montenegro 0-0 Rep of Ireland
10 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Republic draw delights Trapattoni
10 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Pick your Rep of Ireland XI
05 Feb 07 |  Internationals
Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland
06 Sep 08 |  Internationals

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