Kevin Doyle put the Irish ahead in the 4th minute Photo by: PA Wire/PA Photos

Ireland 2 Cyprus 1


Kevin Doyle put the Irish ahead in the 4th minute Photo by: PA Wire/PA Photos

Robbie Keane kept Ireland's World Cup dreams very much alive with an 83rd minute winner against Cyprus in Nicosia. Though the performance was ugly, the result was the one Ireland wanted.

The critics will rightly unsheathe their knives about the way Ireland played, but Trappatoni's reign has been about results, and his team somehow managed to get another positive result despite a display that was, at times, awful.

Ireland got off to a perfect start when Wolves' Kevin Doyle sharply finished off a ball in the box in the fourth minute to give the visitors a one-goal lead.

However, Ireland could not stamp their authority as the first half wore on and the Cypriots slowly started reasserting themselves in the game.

Left-winger Aloneftis was their key man and provided some great crosses into the danger area.

In the 28th minute the Cypriots leveled proceedings. Aloneftis was cleanly tackled in the box by Dunne but the resulting shot was blocked by St. Ledger and broke to the edge of the box.

No one closed down the onrushing Elia and the full back hammered the ball low and hard past Given into the bottom right hand corner to square the match.

Keith Andrews had a shot just wide in the 36th minute and Kilbane should have done much better from a header off a corner two minutes later.

The second period started brightly for the Irish with Hunt having a chance and then Whelan having a wonderful shot saved by the Cypriot keeper Avgousti.

However, Ireland's game deteriorated significantly and the introduction of McGeady and Folan didn’t change much, with the men in white huffing and puffing with long balls punted more in hope than anything else.

However, when Trappatoni’s men strung a few passes together in the 83rd minute, the ball found its way to Duff on the outside right.

The Fulham man turned inside and delivered a good cross to an unmarked Robbie Keane, who headed past the Cypriot keeper to give Ireland an invaluable lead.

Try as they did, Cyprus could not muster up an equalizer and Ireland hung on for a huge three points. With Italy and Bulgaria also winning on Saturday, the importance of this result cannot be overstated.

After today's round of games, Italy lead Group 8 with 17 points after seven games played. Ireland have 16 points after eight games and Bulgaria are in third place, with 11 points after seven games.


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