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EC Qualification

  • 26 March 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Aviva Stadium, Dublin
  • Referee: I. Vad II
  • • Attendance: 33200

Republic of Ireland 2-1 Macedonia: Aiden McGeady and Robbie Keane send hosts top of Group B

Republic of Ireland 2-1 Macedonia: Aiden McGeady and Robbie Keane send hosts top of Group B

First half goals enough for home side as Giovanni Trapattoni's men hold on for vital three points despite Trickovski's goal just before the interval

The Republic of Ireland are joint top of the Euro 2012 qualifying Group B table thanks to a fortunate strike from Aiden McGeady and the quick reactions of Robbie Keane.

With Russia dropping two points away to Armenia earlier in the day, the incentive was there to push on for the three points at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland only had to wait 85 seconds to take the lead as McGeady claimed his first goal in international football. Cutting in on his favoured right foot, he smacked a speculative shot to the bottom left corner which the goalkeeper, Nuredinoski, could only spoon into the net.

The nightmare for the visitor's 'keeper hadn't ceased as Ireland doubled their lead in the 21st minute. Despite Gibson blasting his powerful free-kick straight at the Nuredinoski, Keane pounced immediately on the rebound to give the Boys in Green breathing space.

As the host's strung together some swift passing moves, the away side looked shell-shocked thanks to their shambolic goalkeeper. Macedonia struggled to cope with their opponents' confidence but as the interval loomed, Ireland grew ever more complacent with their lead.

In spite of their dominance, Giovanni Trapattoni's side were lulled into a false security as Macedonia pulled one back before the break. Goran Pandev's intelligent run and disguised through-ball combined with a cool finish by Trickovski halved the deficit as the half-time whistle was blown.

Pointing the way | captain Keane struck the all-important second

The second half opened brightly for Macedonia, Pandev again at the heart of his team's sporadic raids on Keiren Westwood's goal. His hooked attempt flashed just across the goalmouth as they looked to grab the equaliser.

Damien Duff went close to extending Ireland's lead but his drilled effort was dragged just across the face of goal. Westwood was brilliantly alert to preserve the home side's lead as he denied Trickovski with a solid block as the inexperienced Irish defence went AWOL.

It looked as if Macedonia would come away with a point as they continued to apply the pressure. Just as they looked to be turning the screw in the game, Ireland managed to calm things down and venture forward in the closing stages.

A deflected striker from Keane nearly wrapped up the game but it dropped agonisingly to the wrong side of the post. Pandev had one last chance for the away team but he ballooned his shot over the bar due to pressure exerted by the Irish defence as the full-time whistle blew.

Ireland now share top spot with Russia and Slovakia in a tight tussle at the top of the table while Macedonia stay rooted second bottom on four points.

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