07.09.2010 at 19:45 Aviva Stadium
Republic of Ireland
3 - 1
Referee: Mr. L. Trattou (Cyprus)
European Cup Qualifier / Prog-match
Match number 460
Republic of Ireland 3 Andorra
A stunning strike from Kevin Doyle after 41 minutes was the highlight of the Republic of Ireland's comprehensive win over Andorra in the UEFA 2012 Championship qualifying tie before an attendance of 40,283 spectators at the Aviva Stadium.
The powerful Doyle once again produced a headline performance in a game that was dominated by Ireland and produced a scoreline that has left Ireland in a very satisfactory position in the Group B qualifying tournament.
A win by Slovakia over Russia in Moscow was the stand-out result of the second series of matches. They defeated the group favourites 1-0 with a superb goal from the youthful Miroslav Stoch, who is on Chelsea's books, in the first half of their contest in the Lokomotiv Stadium.
Also in Group B, the match in Macedonia with Armenia produced a result that was welcomed by Ireland. Macedonia and Armenia drew 2-2 as both teams lost ground on the group favourites.
The results mean that Ireland now lead Group B with a better goals aggregate than Slovakia who are on the same points total of six. Russia are next in line with three points while Macedonia and Armenia have one point each and Andorra are pointless.
Ireland dominated the game against Andorra without playing with real fluency or calculation. They were far too strong and direct for Andorra and genuinely overwhelmed them.
It was highly impressive, the manner in which they applied themselves to the task of maintaining a high tempo game while Andorra were seeking at all times to slow the game. And in their determination to sweep the visitors aside, Ireland went consistently to a very direct pattern of play.
The impressive ability of Doyle to win the ball in the air was central to this approach and the tactic worked a treat, even if Doyle had to pay a heavy penalty in the amount of physical punishment he sustained.
One particular challenge from his direct opponent, Lima, in the 33rd minute certainly deserved a booking as Lima jumped into his back in the air and then fell on him when he went to ground.
Doyle is nothing if not game, however, and his willingness to work and chase in the cause of the team was handsomely rewarded with his strike in the 41st minute.
Andorra's left-winger, Moreno, fought to retain possession under a challenge from Liam Lawrence and then lost control of the ball as Doyle came from behind to take it. Doyle turned towards goal and drilled a left-foot shot from 25 yards across goal and high into the far corner.
This was the second goal of the game and it looked as if it would be the signal for Ireland to pour forward and salvage more goals. But they were shocked when Andorra snatched an excellent goal of their own in the 45th minute.
Richard Dunne was under pressure from Pujol when he moved to head a ball clear and could only knock it across the front of the penalty area. Martinez hit the ball firmly past goalkeeper Shay Given from 20 yards.
Ireland should have been more than 2-1 in front at half-time after their excellent start and the control they maintained. The urgency in their play won an early return when Kevin Kilbane rose high at the near post to deflect a header into the net from Liam Lawrence's left-wing corner.
The goal was a tribute to Ireland's work on the training ground for it was obviously rehearsed. John O'Shea pulled out of the near post position as Lawrence moved to strike the corner and left the space for Kilbane to attack while the ball was in flight.
Ireland were caught in a careless moment for the Andorra goal and they picked up the pace again at the start of the second half. Once again they made things very uncomfortable for Andorra by closing them down quickly in their own half and by their powerful running and competitive approach.
They produced a delightful bout of passing to set up a goal that was magnificently taken by the captain, Robbie Keane, in the 54th minute.
Aiden McGeady, whose elusive running in possession regularly embarrassed agitated Andorra defenders, played a central role. He found Paul Green in a central position just outside the penalty area and the midfielder guided it forward to Doyle.
He angled it diagonally for the closing McGeady and a cleverly disguised pass to Keane deep inside the box opened a path to goal for the skipper. His finish was cool and calculated as he dinked the ball delicately over goalkeeper Gomes.
It was entirely fitting that McGeady should have played such a prominent part as Keane scored his 44th goal in his 102nd international. McGeady was a constant threat to Andorra and his skill on the ball regularly pulled their defenders out of position as they scrambled to try and contain him.
The rest was routine as Ireland maintained control of the flow of the game without ever suggesting they were going to further improve their goals aggregate. There was one ridiculous incident in the 67th minute when Doyle was wrestled to the ground by Da Silva and the referee, unaccountably, declined to award what was a stonewall penalty.
McGeady was one of Ireland's brightest stars on a night when the defence was never in trouble apart from the one goal they conceded. Given was never tested and Ireland played with great balance and enthusiasm as Doyle once again proved a vital cog in the overall scheme of things.
Ireland are next in action on Friday, October 8th, when they play Russia at the Aviva Stadium in a match that will, obviously, have a profound influence on the contest for qualification for the finals in Poland/Ukraine in 2012.
Kevin Doyle said: "It was a tough game. It would have been good had we scored a couple more goals but we have two wins out of two now and six points so that is good.
"My knee was sore ... I got a kick in the first half and it stiffened up a little but it will be ok. I was delighted to scored, I decided to have a strike and I struck in nicely and when they fly in like that they always look pretty good.
"In fairness their finish for their goal was very good as well. The manager did not make a big issue of it at half-tyime, he just we had created chances and to just get as many goals as we could.
"It's hard when everyone expects you to win a match and it is difficult when they were trying to stop[ the game and delay it and giving frees away and generally they made it difficult for us."
Republic of Ireland: Shay Given (Manchester City); John O'Shea (Manchester United), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Sean St. Ledger (Preston), Kevin Kilbane (Hull City); Liam Lawrence (Portsmouth), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Paul Green (Derby County), Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow); Kevin Doyle (Wolves), Robbie Keane ('Spurs).
Subs: Darron Gibson (Manchester United) for Whelan 60; Stephen Kelly (Fulham) for O'Shea 75; Andy Keogh (Cardiff City) for Doyle 83.
Andorra: Gomes; Silva, Lima, Bernaus; Escura, Martinez, Vieira, Gomez, Ayala (Andorra 71), Moreno (Jimenez 50); Pujol (Sonejee 86).
Referee: Mr. L. Trattou (Cyprus)