The Republic of Ireland played out a 1-1 draw with Nigeria in a friendly on Friday.
A goal from Michael Enemaro on the half hour mark set The Super Eagles on their way at Craven Cottage before Robbie Keane pulled one back to level matters.
The Irish captain displayed his trademark coolness inside the opposition's penalty area for his goal as he collected as pass from Keith Andrews, rounded the keeper, and slotted into an empty net.
Even though a winning goal evaded them, Ireland will be generally pleased with how they fared in this match, which was used as a warm-up for next week's World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria.
Giovanni Trapattoni will undoubtedly have noticed that his team looked disjointed at times in the game, although he can easily point to the fact that he gave six players their debuts and that this fixture arrives at the end of a long season.
Nevertheless, there were plenty of positives for the Irish boss to take. Not only did he introduce some new faces to his pool of players, but he saw his side move the ball well, keep their shape, look to attack, and respond well after conceding a soft goal.
Of the new players, Leon Best linked-up well with Keane, Eddie Nolan and Kevin Foley were decent in the two full-back positions, Liam Lawrence showed glimpses of what he can do when on the ball, Sean St Ledger looked comfortable in the heart of the defence, and Kieren Westwood did okay with the limited amount of ball that came his way.
There are some issues to address though and Trapattoni will not have been happy to see Enemaro get in front of Foley to convert a cross from Femi Olubayo.
It only took eight minutes for Ireland to register a response when Liam Miller - who did himself no harm with a strong performance - spinning the ball into Andrews before he fed Keane and the Tottenham Hotspur striker did the rest.
It was 1-1 at the break and that is how it remained despite the fact that tempo was brought up a notch in the second period.
Efforts from Shane Long, Andrews, Lawrence, and Aiden McGeady proved that Ireland wanted another goal, but it also showed that Trapattoni's team play with a system and that is designed to get the most out of his attacking players.
With John O'Shea and Kevin Kilbane come back into the defence, Glenn Whelan and Aiden McGeady to reclaim their starting spots, and possibly Caleb Folan up front, they will be a much stronger unit when they take the pitch in Sofia next week.
Nigeria were without a number of their own star players and they showed little to excite the decent crowd that turned up for the game. Olubayo was probably their best player, while Sam Sodje - just released by Reading - and Kalu Uche made notable contributions.
It might not have been the greatest match - an indicator of this comes when the crowd take it upon themselves to start a Mexican wave - but Trapattoni will be pleased with the progress that his team are making and he will have learned more about certain players in this match and that was the idea behind it.
One of the questions going into this game was 'can any of the debutants state a case for first-team inclusion>'. Well after 90 minutes of football, each of the six new players would feel that they did enough to impress, which gives the manager some more options to ponder.
This was a friendly match, so it was only ever going to reach a certain level of competitiveness, but Ireland will be the happier of the two teams after it.
Republic of Ireland: Given [Westwood 46m], Foley [McShane 72m], Dunne, St Ledger, Nolan, Lawrence [Hunt 81m], Miller, Andrews [Whelan 59m], Duff [McGeady 46m], Keane [Long 46m], Best.
Subs Not Used: Kelly, Kilbane, Keogh.
Nigeria: Ejide, Olubayo, Sodje [Nw Obinna 78m], Adeleye, Utaka, Olofinjana, Uche, Aluko [Ns Obinna 61m], Mohammed, Akpala [Odemwingie 61m].
Subs Not Used: Enyeama, Etuhu, Kanu.
Log in with your social accounts:
Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:
Don't have an account yet? Register now !
Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:
Already have an account ? Log in
Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:
Make sure we gathered the correct information from you
You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.
Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: