25.05.2010 at 19:45 RDS Dublin
Republic of Ireland
2 - 1
Referee: Mr. J. Laperriere (Switzerland)
Justo Wilmar Villar Viveros,
Julio Cesar Caceres,
Ireland defeat Paraguay with first half goals
Match Number 456
Statto: Interantional debuts for Cilian Sheridan, Paul Green and Keith Fahey.
Rep of Ireland 2 Paraguay 1
The Republic of Ireland scored twice in the opening half of an entertaining contest at the RDS Dublin tonight to defeat World Cup finalists Paraguay. The goals were scored by Kevin Doyle and Liam Lawrence and Ireland withstood a determined second half rally to win a match in which several Irish newcomers made second half appearances.
Giovanni Trapattoni took advantage of the occasion to promote Cillian Sheridan, Paul Green, Keith Fahey and give further experience to Kevin Foley and Shane Long as Ireland stood firm in face of regular second half pressure.
Ireland made a spectacular start to the match with a goal within seven minutes of kick-off. A free from Damien Duff flew into a crowded goalmouth and after Roque Santa Cruz had deflected the ball against the crossbar as he attempted to head it wide, Kevin Doyle closed on the rebound to head home from six yards.
It was Doyle's eighth goal for Ireland and was just the start that manager Giovanni Trapattoni would have hoped for. A worry was the fact that Doyle hurt himself in the act of scoring as he seemed to collide with an upright but he was able to continue.
Giovanni Trapattoni affirmed his belief that there is no such thing as a ‘friendly' international by selecting eight of his first-choice players for the match.
Indeed it is likely he would have stood firmly by the selection that played against France in the World Cup play-off matches but for injuries which have kept out goalkeeper Shay Given, Richard Dunne and Kevin Kilbane.
Trapattoni has made it eminently clear that even though the opening match in the UEFA 2012 Championship qualifying tournament is still three months away, the preparations are very much underway.
Paraguay used the game as preparation for their involvement in the World Cup finals in South Africa where they will compete in Group F against Italy, New Zealand and Slovakia.
They were rocked on their heels by Doyle's goal and were met by a disciplined and well-organised Irish defence as they sought to regain equality. Paraguay enjoyed more possession but produced precious little in the final third of the pitch and goalkeeper Keiren Westwood was scarcely troubled in the opening half-hour.
Instead it was Ireland who played with great confidence and assurance. Kevin Doyle won an amount of ball for Ireland when the defenders went long as they relieved pressure while Keith Andrews used the ball accurately and effectively in central midfield.
Ireland punished Paraguay with a glorious second goal in the 39th minute. Stephen Kelly played a ball from the right-hand touchline to Kevin Doyle in a central position just inside the penalty box. Doyle held off a defender and chested the ball sideways to where Robbie Keane was closing.
The ball was fractionally behind Keane and he allowed it run into the path of the charging Liam Lawrence and he crashed a glorious half-volley from 16 yards that took a slight deflection off defender Caniza as it flew into the far corner.
Paraguay were more energised in the second half when they looked to retrieve the situation. They were quicker in their use of the ball and worked harder off the ball to drag Ireland defenders out of position.
Ireland had two decent attempts at goal before Paraguay hit their higher rhythm. Doyle took a pass from Keane on his chest and shot left-footed as he turned for goalkeeper Bobadilla to save. And Damien Duff surged clear onto a pass from Glenn Whelan after 52 minutes and his left foot volley on the run rebounded off the goalkeeper. Keane fired the rebound over.
Paraguay played their way cleverly through Ireland's defence in the 58th minute. Santa Cruz linked with Morel and his first time deflection found Barrios who swerved away from Whelan and Sean St. Ledger before firing right-footed past Keiren Westwood from 18 yards. It was Barrios' first goal on his debut for his country.
Ireland were driven ever deeper into defence as Paraguay dominated the ball. Their one-touch passing movements were dynamic at times but Ireland's disciplined defending ensured that goalkeeper Keiren Westwood was never exposed.
There was one moment of anxiety as left-winger Gamarra angled a ball behind the defensive line and across the goalmouth in the 70th minute. Ireland were caught in confusion and as goalkeeper and defenders hesitated the ball ran narrowly wide of the far upright. St. Ledger and Westwood appeared to exchange words as Ireland realised they had been allowed off the hook.
Most encouraging for Trapattoni was the outstanding performance of Kevin Doyle who was immense at centre-forward. He clearly has grown in bulk and in confidence after his successful season with Wolves and he was Ireland's top performer when, again, the work of the manager in schooling his players in training was very much in evidence.
Republic of Ireland: Westwood (Coventry City); Kelly (Fulham), McShane (Hull City), St. Ledger (Preston North End), O'Shea (Manchester United); Lawrence (Stoke City), Whelan (Stoke City), Andrews (Blackburn Rovers), Duff (Fulham); Keane (Tottenham Hotspur), Doyle (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Subs; Cillian Sheridan (St. Johnstone) for Keane 63; Paul Green (Derby County) for Whelan 69, Keith Fahey (Birmingham City) for Duff 77, Kevin Foley (Wolves) for Lawrence 82, Shane Long (Reading) for Doyle 87.
Paraguay: Bobadilla; Vera, Alcaraz, Caniza, Da Silva, Morel; Santana, Riveros: Gamarra, Santa Cruz, Barrios.
Subs: Torres for Morel, Ortigoza for Riveros and Bonjet for Vera, all 65 mins, Martinez for Santa Cruz 77, Aquino for Santana 82.