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Page last updated at 21:05 GMT, Friday, 29 May 2009 22:05 UK

Rep of Ireland 1-1 Nigeria

By Alvin McCaig

Republic midfielder Liam Lawrence and Kalu Uche fight for possession
Republic midfielder Liam Lawrence and Kalu Uche fight for possession

The Republic of Ireland warmed up for their World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria with a draw in Friday night's friendly at Craven Cottage.

Both sides were under-strength with the Republic giving debuts to six players.

Nigeria took a 30th minute lead when Michael Enemaro fired into the bottom corner before debutant Leon Best headed against a post from close range.

Republic skipper Robbie Keane levelled on 38 minutes when he rounded keeper Austin Ejide before slotting home.

Republic boss Giovanni Trappatoni handed debuts to Kevin Foley, Eddie Nolan, Sean St Ledger, Liam Lawrence and Best.

Best was quickly into the action with Keane's third minute pass putting the Coventry striker through but he only got a faint touch before colliding with Ejide.

Nigeria's first threat came after 20 minutes when Sone Aluko's cheeky lob from a 40-yard free-kick forced Shay Given to tip over.

Sam Sodje made a superb challenge to block Best's goal-bound strike and from the resulting corner Keane missed the ball with his attempted volley at the back-post.


The Super Eagles went ahead with Eneramo getting in front of Foley before firing low into the bottom corner from a fizzed cross.

Best headed against the woodwork from St Ledger's knock-back before Keane's 38th minute leveller.

Good work from Liam Millar and Keith Andrews gave Keane the space to round Ejide before sliding the ball into an empty net.

Ejide blocked a Best shot at the end of what was, for a friendly, an entertaining opening half.

Coventry keeper Kieren Westwood became the sixth Republic debutant when he replaced Given at the start of the second half.

Aiden McGeady and Shane Long were also introduced with Keane and Damien Duff making way.

Ejide almost gifted the Republic a second goal when his poor clearance fell to the feet of substitute Shane Long, but the keeper managed to get back to save the Reading striker's 20-yard effort.

The pace dropped during the second half and substitutions from both teams contributed to the game becoming a scrappy affair.

There were few goalmouth incidents with Lawrence and McGeady failing to find the target.

Trapattoni's focus can now turn to the World Cup qualifier in Sofia on 6 June with the Republic needing a win to go top of the group.

Republic of Ireland: Given, Foley, Dunne, St. Ledger, Nolan, Duff, Miller, Andrews, Lawrence, Keane, Best.

Nigeria: Ejide, Adefemi, Sodje, Mohammed, Olofinjana, Aluko, Uche, Adeleye, Utaka, Akpala, Eneramo.

Referee: William Collum (Scotland)

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see also
Trapattoni happy with debutants
29 May 09 |  Internationals
Keeper Kiely in Republic walkout
28 May 09 |  Internationals
Doyle out of Republic qualifier
26 May 09 |  Internationals
Lawrence handed Republic call-up
18 May 09 |  Internationals

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