14.11.2012 at 15:00 Aviva Stadium
Republic of Ireland
0 - 1
Referee: Eitan Shmuelevitz
Friendly / Prog-match
Jose Holebas scored the winner as Greece beat Republic of Ireland 1-0 in Wednesday's friendly in Dublin.
Ireland should have had a first minute penalty when Stephen Ward's cross from the left clearly hit Konstantinos Stafylidis on the hand but the referee waved on.
And Giovanni Trapattoni's side were made to pay when Georgios Samaras found Holebas, who scored from the edge of the box on 29 minutes.
The Italian's experimental side, which featured Ciaran Clark, James McCarthy, James McClean and Robbie Brady from the start and Wes Hoolahan after the break, competed well for long periods, but were unable to carve out the openings to take something from the game.
In front of a sparse crowd at the Aviva Stadium, where they were battered 6-1 by Germany in a World Cup qualifier last month, Ireland showed plenty of endeavour and at times craft, but they could not find the killer touch in front of goal.
As a result, Holebas' sweet 29th-minute strike was enough to win the game for the visitors and leave Trapattoni's detractors with enough ammunition to maintain their opposition to his continued presence at the helm heading into March's crucial World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria.
But Ireland had strong claims for a first-minute penalty waved away by Israeli referee Eitan Shmuelevitz and defender Stafylidis could consider himself extremely fortunate not to be penalised for his less-than-effective attempt to deal with Ward's deep cross.
Cox went to ground inside the box under Sokratis Papastathopoulos' challenge three minutes later, but the appeals on that occasion were more muted and also ignored, and McClean scuffed a long-range effort wide.
The Republic looked certain to take the lead with 10 minutes gone when full-back Seamus Coleman, whose performance was a real plus for the hosts, crossed for Cox who headed at goal unopposed but he was unable to hit the target with just keeper Orestis Karnezis to beat.
Greece made Ireland pay when skipper Samaras, who had earlier had to leave the pitch for treatment to a head wound, turned Konstantinos Mitroglou's pass into the path of Holebas, who span John O'Shea and thumped the ball into the bottom corner.
Ireland pressed in the second period but could find no way through as Greece coasted to the final whistle and victory with few alarms.
Karnezis; Torosidis, Papadopuolos, Papastathopoulos, Stafylidis; Ninis, Tziolis, Tachtsidis, Cholevas; Samaras (c), Mitroglou. Subs: Athanasiadis for Cholevas (46), Fortounis for Mitroglou (46), Salpingdis for Samaras (46), Vyntra for Ninis (60), Maniatis for Torosidis (60), Spyropoulos for Stafylidis (82).
Republic of Ireland: Forde; Coleman, O'Shea (c), Clark, Ward; Brady, McCarthy, Whelan, McClean; Cox; Long. Subs: Andrews for Whelan (33), Doyle for Long (46), Hoolhan for Brady (46), Keogh for Cox (60), Meyler for McCarthy (70).
Republic of Ireland 0 Greece 1
The Republic of Ireland ended 2012 on a losing note when a 29th minute goal from Loint Cholevas separated the sides in an entertaining 3 International Friendly at the Aviva Stadium.
Before the game UEFA President Michel Platini presented the Euro 2012 Fans Award which was accepted on behalf of the Irish fans by the family of James Nolan, the Irish fan who died tragically in Poland during the tournament.
Ireland's starting eleven showed seven changes from the side which lined out in last month's FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands with one of those changes coming just before the game as David Forde replaced Keiren Westwood in goal after the Sunderland goalkeeper pulled out with a groin injury. Elsewhere Ciaran Clark came in for Darren O'Dea at centre-back while Stephen Ward replaced Mark Wilson at left back. In midfield Glenn Whelan took over from Keith Andrews while James McClean replaced Aiden McGeady on the left wing. Up front, Simon Cox was in for Robbie Keane while Shane Long came in for Jonathon Walters.
In a bright opening, Ireland had two early appeals for a penalty dismissed by Israeli referee Eitan Shmuelevitz as Greek debutant Stafylidis appeared to handle in the area and Papastathopoulos bundled over Shane Long.
Then Simon Cox spurned an excellent opportunity when he miscued a free header from six yards after good work down the right by Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady ended with a pin-point cross from the Everton defender.
James McClean was also causing the Greeks problems down the left and the Greek keeper Karnezis had to react quickly when a cross from the Sunderland player was deflected goalward off Papastathopoulos.
The Greeks took all of 23 minutes before they troubled David Forde and the MIllwall keeper was forced into a fine full length save to push a shot from Sotiris Ninis around his right hand post while a few moments later skipper John O'Shea made a timely interception to deny Mitroglou.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 29th minute when a neat inter-changes of passes on the edge of the Irish box between Mitroglou and Samras teed up Loint Cholevas who drilled a low shot past Forde.
Ireland then lost midfielder Glenn Whelan in the 33rd minute with a hamstring injury and he was replaced by Keith Andrews as the game threatened to boil over in the minutes before half-time. Ireland finished the half on a positive note when Robbie Brady cut in from the right drilled a powerful shot that Karnezis did well to parry.
That was Brady's last contribution of the game as he was replaced at half-time by Wesley Hoolahan and Kevin Doyle came on from Shane Long and two minutes after the break Doyle almost got to a loose ball after the keeper could only parry a sweetly struck shot from James McCarthy.
A flurry of substitutions disrupted the flow of the game but it did allow Giovanni Trapattoni to bring in Andy Keogh for the injured Simon Cox and David Meyler for James McCarthy and Keogh played a part in the 69th minute move which should have yielded an equaliser. A Hoolahan free-kick across the face of the box saw Keogh's shot block but the rebound spun wide to Stephen Ward who, with the goal at his mercy, miscued his volley and shot across the face of goal with Doyle unable to reach the ball as it headed wide.
Although Ireland continued to battle hard they were unable to break down a resolute Greek defence and therefore ended 2012 on a losing note although manager Giovanni Trapattoni will have been pleased with the spirited performance from his players who have left him with plenty to ponder as he prepares for 2013 and the resumption of the FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign in March.