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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 May, 2004, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Rep of Ireland 0-3 Nigeria
Inter Milan star Obafemi Martins holds off Gary Doherty
Obafemi Martins (right) scored Nigeria's second goal
Brian Kerr's understrength Republic of Ireland side were outclassed by a slick Nigeria team in the opening fixture of the Unity Cup at The Valley.

Bartholomew Ogbeche's 36th-minute strike gave the Nigerians a deserved interval advantage.

Nigeria continued to dominate after the break and Obafemi Martins' great strike and Ogbeche's second goal rounded off the Super Eagles' superb display.

Stephen McPhail and Robbie Keane hit the woodwork late on for the Irish.

Kerr made five changes to the Irish side which had beaten Romania on Thursday night with Shay Given, Andy O'Brien, Roy Keane, Andy Reid and Clinton Morrison dropping out.

Nicky Colgan, Gary Doherty, Mark Kinsella, Stephen McPhail and Alan Lee came into the Irish side.

Bolton's Jay-Jay Okocha and Arsenal striker Kanu were not part of the Nigerian squad but the Africans didn't miss the two stars.

The Nigerians made a fast start and Colgan made a great save in the fifth minute to stop a Seyi Olofinjana effort that had taken a wicked deflection.

Lee's ninth minute effort was then blocked after he had waltzed past two Nigerian defenders.

The Irish had a real let-off after McPhail had conceded possession deep in his own half but Ogbeche's close range effort came back off the woodwork when it seemed easier to score.

Alan Maybury was substituted at half-time
Alan Maybury (left) challenges John Utaka

However, the Nigerian pressure was rewarded in the 36th minute thanks to Ogbeche's cracking long-range effort.

Mark Kinsella, who for so long played at The Valley, lost possession and Ogbeche unleashed a fierce low drive which hit the inside base of the left post before bouncing over the line.

It almost got worse for Kerr's men after 42 minutes when Colgan just managed to get a hand to Ogbeche's attempted lob.

Ireland had made two changes at the interval with QPR winger Martin Rowlands and Stoke's Clive Clarke replacing Liam Miller and Alan Maybury.

That meant a second cap for Rowlands after he also came off the bench on Thursday, while for Clarke it was his senior international debut.

The Nigerians nearly doubled their lead within 10 seconds of the restart but Martins' shot went inches wide.

However, the Inter Milan star notched Nigeria's second goal four minutes after the break with a stunning 20 yard shot after he had easily skipped past Cunningham.

Things then went from bad to worse for the Irish when Ogbeche stabbed home Nigeria's third from close range in the 69th minute after Colgan had failed to control Cunningham's clumsy backpass.

As the Nigerians eased off in the closing stages, McPhail and Robbie Keane hit the woodwork for the Irish.

The Republic face Jamaica at The Valley on Wednesday as they continue their end-of-season friendly schedule, which will finish with a trip to Holland on 5 June.

Nigeria: Rotimi, Olofinjana, Dnakhari, Utaka, Obodo, Martins, Lawal, Olosinjuh, Abbey, Ogbeche, Ekwueme. Subs: Bankole, Adamu, Showunmi, Akuwegbu.

Rep of Ireland: Colgan, Finnan, Cunningham, Doherty, Maybury, Miller, Holland, Kinsella, McPhail, Robbie Keane, Lee. Subs: Alan Quinn, O'Brien, Rowlands, Clarke, Kenny, Barrett, Thompson, Douglas, Andy Reid, Given, Morrison, Doyle, McGeady.

Referee: Andrew D'Urso (England)




SEE ALSO
Kerr defends weary Irish
29 May 04  |  Rep of Ireland


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