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Page last updated at 20:38 GMT, Saturday, 5 September 2009 21:38 UK

Cyprus 1-2 Republic of Ireland

Kevin Doyle and Robbie Keane
Kevin Doyle celebrates with Robbie Keane after putting the Republic ahead

Robbie Keane's late goal earned the Republic of Ireland a vital win over Cyprus in the World Cup qualifier.

Kevin Doyle put the Irish ahead on five minutes but Marios Elia levelled on 30 as the visitors began to struggle.

Glenn Whelan went close for the Republic but Cyprus had a couple of strong penalty claims turned down.

The Irish laboured for most of the second half in Nicosia but in a rare attack, Damien Duff crossed for Keane to head to the net on 83 minutes.

The win keeps the Republic on track for at least a World Cup play-off - which will be guaranteed by four points in their final two home games against Italy and Montenegro.

But it was a unconvincing display by Giovanni Trapattoni's side with creative midfield play almost completely absent from the visitors.

The Republic got off to the perfect start as Doyle netted on five minutes after a goalmouth scramble.

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Duff's teasing cross had forced the concession of a corner and Stephen Hunt's delivery from the set piece was headed back by Richard Dunne before Doyle lashed past Avgousti.

Cyprus were nearly on terms within a minute as Shay Given firstly produced a magnificent save to turn away Ioannis Okkas' firm header.

Seconds later, Chrysostomos Michail fluffed a glorious chance after the ball was returned to the Irish penalty area.

Hunt whistled an 11th-minute left-foot shot a yard wide and Richard Dunne had appeals for a penalty waved away as Ireland continued their bright start.

However, winger Efstathios Aloneftis became increasingly influential for the home side and his 29th-minute cross led to a Cypriot penalty claim as Dunne appeared to trip Okkas.

Within a minute, the Cypriots were on terms as Marios Elia lashed an angled shot past Given after Sean St Ledger had blocked Andreas Avraam's well-struck shot initial shot.

Kilbane headed inches over in the 37th minute but the Republic's play was becoming increasingly ragged by half-time as the more fluent Cypriots grew in confidence.

Damien Duff
Damien Duff shows frustration during the game in Nicosia

By that stage, route one was the Republic's only attacking option with central midfielders Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews largely anonymous.

Duff was also fortunate to avoid a booking late in the half for an apparent dive which led to Cyprus defender Elias Charalambous receiving a harsh yellow card.

The Republic produced an attacking flurry immediately after the break with Hunt heading over from a tight angle and Avgousti then tipping a fierce goalbound Whelan effort over for a corner.

But the scrappy Irish play of the first period largely continued with the Cypriots now dealing comfortably with the visitors' predominant long ball tactic.

Okkas' pace caused Dunne problems again in the 61st minute with the Aston Villa defender getting the benefit of the doubt after the Cypriot tumbled in the Irish area.

Trapattoni made his first change after 67 minutes when he replaced Hunt with Aiden McGeady and Caleb Folan was introduced for Doyle seven minutes later.

As the game entered its final 10 minutes, there was little to suggest that the Irish were capable of grabbing a late winner.

However, Trapattoni's luck came to the fore again seven minutes from time after the Irish managed to get width into their play for the first time in the second half.

Duff found space on the right flank and Keane nipped in ahead of Avgousti to head the Fulham winger's cross to the roof of the net.

With the Cypriots unable to summon up a response, the Republic had fashioned an unlikely smash-and-grab raid to keep their World Cup ambitions on track.


Cyprus: Avgousti, Charalambous, Nicolau, Elia, Christou, Michael (Alexandrou 71), Avraam, Aloneftis, Satsias (Maragkos 90), Charalambidis, Okkas (Christofi 90). Subs not used: Asprogenis, Constantinou, Efrem, Garpozis.

Rep of Ireland: Given, Dunne, O'Shea, St Ledger, Hunt (McGeady 66), Kilbane, Whelan, Duff, Andrews, Doyle (Folan 75), Keane. Subs not used: Westwood, Kelly, Nolan, Gibson, Keogh.

Referee: Thomas Einwaller (Austria)



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see also
Trapattoni hails 'important' win
05 Sep 09 |  Internationals
International football as it happened
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Republic boss unfazed by defeat
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Rep of Ireland 0-3 Australia
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Ireland remains out for Republic
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Pick your Rep of Ireland XI
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