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Ireland 0-1 Argentina: Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria spoils Robbie Keane's big night

A solitary Angel Di Maria strike was enough for Argentina to condemn Ireland to defeat in their opening game at the Aviva Stadium and leave Robbie Keane disappointed on the occasion of his 100th cap.

The Real Madrid winger struck controversially in the 20th minute to hand Sergio Batista, the interim coach, a handsome winning start in charge of the Albiceleste.

Argentina dominated the possession, allowing Ireland only half chances, and, despite a last-gasp scare, were well worth the victory. Ireland could not find a way through the Argentine midfield and rearguard and were often reduced to a chasing role.

The guets imposed themselves on the fixture from the first whistle, rarely allowing the hosts meaningful possession in their salubrious new surroundings.

Lionel Messi and Di Maria proved to be effective outlets for dominant midfield play, where Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega and Fernando Gago excelled.

Barcelona's Messi attempted to chip Shay Given eight minutes in after beating John O'Shea but his effort was too high.

Linking up with Gabriel Heinze, the new Real Madrid winger Di Maria showed poise and purpose - the sort of incisiveness that persuaded Jose Mourinho to take him to the Bernabeu.

There were half chances for Keane and Damien Duff but Argentina soon moved into a deserved lead.

Sergio Romero's long kick found Gonzalo Higuain and his knockdown was placed into the path of Di Maria. The former Benfica wide man lobbed a fine effort over Given, from what seemed to be an offside position, and the subsequent Irish protests fell on deaf ears.

The 22-year-old was a menace throughout and almost found Higuain from a Messi through-pass, shortly after the opener, but O'Shea was well placed to clear.

Messi himself saw a typical left-footed effort, after cutting in from the right, patted down by Given just after the half hour. 

There was significantly more needle to the second half; Paul McShane and Walter Samuel clashed, as the Irish added physicality to the mix in order to get to grips with their visitors.

Messi found substitute Diego Milito just after the break with a diagonal through-pass but the Inter forward was on his heels and could not react before O'Shea in the box.

By adding bite, the Irish gained more territory, albeit temporarily. A long pass to Keane tested Samuel but he managed to block from the centurion and Andy Keogh in quick succession.

The raft of substitutions disrupted the flow of the game but Keane's lay-off to Duff did yield a chance with 20 minutes to go. Romero held well on that occasion. The replacements Keith Treacy and Keogh then combined to force a good chance with 10 minutes remaining.

In between, Gago showed Argentina's teeth with a fine, on-target strike that was fielded by Given.

Heading towards injury time the captain Keane was to have one true chance to strike but his close-range effort, from a Keogh flick-on, was superbly denied by Martin Demichelis. A frenetic last-minute free-kick made the Argentines uncomfortable but Keane could not hook home after a melee.

A new era for the Diego Maradona-less Argentina begins optimistically but for the Irish and Keane, without their ill coach Giovanni Trapattoni on the night, it proved to be another frustrating night pockmarked with another controversial goal.

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