24.05.2011 at 19:45 Aviva Stadium
Republic of Ireland
5 - 0
Referee: Mr. Craig Thompson (Scotland)
Carling Nations Cup / Prog-match
Adam Thompson 54 mins.
Statto: Stephen Ward and Simon Cox both marked their full Republic of Ireland debuts with goals; David Forde makes his debut
Stephen Ward and Simon Cox both marked their full Republic of Ireland debuts with goals in the 5-0 rout of neighbours Northern Ireland in the Carling Nations Cup.
Captain Robbie Keane was also on target, scoring twice, once from the penalty spot, as Giovanni Trapattoni's side cruised to victory in front of just 12,083 spectators at the Aviva Stadium.
The Republic were helped on the night by a Craig Cathcart own goal, while Northern Ireland's miserable evening included a red card for Adam Thompson, who fouled Keane when giving away the penalty.
Trapattoni will now prepare for a potential tournament decider against Scotland on Sunday, while Nigel Worthington's inexperienced Northern Ireland, who face Wales on Friday, are left to reflect.
It proved to be a disappointing night overall for Northern Ireland, who were cheered on by a sparse band of supporters after fans staged a boycott in protest at travelling restrictions placed upon them.
Ward was not in the team that manager Trapattoni named to the media on Monday, meaning he was a surprise inclusion in the starting XI.
As Ward and Cox both made their maiden bows for the Republic, teenager Josh Carson was handed his first cap for Northern Ireland and Gareth McAuley was named as captain.
The visitors had the first real chance on goal, but Jonny Gorman was well off-target with a shot that he sliced past the post.
At the other end, Seamus Coleman's cross picked out Paul McShane in front of goal, but he sent his header flashing past the upright.
The Republic were threatening again when Keith Treacy unleashed an effort from distance, but the shot lacked power and it was comfortably smothered by Alan Blayney.
The hosts continued to press and were only denied the opener by the woodwork when Cox cut the ball back for Keith Andrews and his swerving effort smacked off the post.
The home side's hard work paid off when they took the lead with 24 minutes gone.
Treacy played a one-two with Cox from a short corner before whipping into the goal-mouth. Goalkeeper Blayney threw himself at the ball, but spilled in front of Ward who rifled home the opener from close range.
The Republic doubled their lead after 37 minutes when Keane pounced on a dreadful pass-back by Lee Hodson before lofting over the goalkeeper and seeing the shot nestle in the bottom corner.
There was further misery for Northern Ireland when Coleman's ball across the face of goal was forced into the back of his own net by Cathcart a minute before the interval.
The Republic were always favourites to come out on top and added to their tally nine minutes after the restart.
Thompson was deemed to have fouled Keane in the box and was given a straight red card by Scottish referee Craig Thomson, before the Tottenham striker dusted himself off and slotted low past Blayney from the penalty spot.
Keane could have claimed a hat-trick with a ferocious volley, but, this time, the goalkeeper was up to the task and produced a decent save. Keane was then replaced by Andy Keogh to applause from the crowd.
A commotion then followed in the section housing the Northern Ireland fans, however, order was quickly restored by the stewards.
It had been an uneventful night for Shay Given in the Republic goal and he was replaced by David Forde for the final 20 minutes.
But Blayney was left picking the ball out of the back of the net again when Cox raced into the box and sent an angled drive past the goalkeeper to complete the rout, before Stephen Hunt's free-kick crashed off the post late on.
The victory put the Republic at the top of the Nations Cup table ahead of Scotland's game against Wales.
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Republic of Ireland 5 - 0 Northern Ireland
Stephen Ward 24
Robbie Keane 27, 53 (pen)
Craig Cathcart (o.g.) 44
Simon Cox 79
Five goals was a handsome return for the Republic of Ireland as they punished a youthful Northern Ireland in the Carling Nations' Cup tie at the Aviva Stadium.
Five goals provided manager Giovanni Trapattoni with his biggest win with Ireland and the goals were also of special significance to three of the Republic's players.
Robbie Keane put the frustrations of a fragmented club season behind him with two goals - one from a penalty - to boost his aggregate with Ireland to a magnificent 48 from 106 matches.
Stephen Ward and Simon Cox produced impressive performances in their first international matches and benchmarked their contributions for Trapattoni with a goal each as well.
Northern Ireland were represented by one of the youngest selections ever to wear the international shirt and despite a bright opening ten minutes they were always second best. Their cause was rendered impossible when Alan Thompson was shown a red card when he conceded a penalty in the 53rd minute, a decision that seemed a little harsh.
The Republic moved three points clear of Scotland at the top of the Carling Nations' Cup table in this four-team tournament. Scotland will play Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday, May 25, and if they win then their match against the Republic on Sunday will decide the competition.
That was not on the players' minds, however, as they reflected on such a satisfying scoring performance and the knowledge that some of their football had been highly impressive.
Robbie Keane, whose disappointment at being withdrawn with the possibility of a hat-trick within his grasp, said: "It is always important to win and against our closest rivals we did that convincingly.
"I wanted to stay on as another goal would have seen me equal the English scoring record but instead Simon Cox stayed on and he got a debut goal so I am delighted for him."
Keane was denied his hat-trick by a magnificent save from goalkeeper Blayney in the 56th minute. Paul McShane worked clear on the right to fire the ball into the penalty area and a deflection off a defender saw the ball bounce kindly in front of Keane. His volley from 12 yards was powerfully struck and Blayney produced the best save of the game as he turned the ball away.
Stephen Ward said: "Obviously it was nice to score a goal on my first start and it was a good night all-round. I have waited a long time for my debut and I enjoyed every minute of it."
Ward, who played at full-back but was originally a striker when transferred from Bohemians to Wolves, scored his goal following a corner. "I don't go forward for the corners for Wolves and to do so tonight and score was very pleasing.
"Now I will get my legs rested and see what will happen the rest of the week."
The Republic's match against Scotland will offer Trapattoni a last opportunity to look at the options that were presented to him by the impact several relative newcomers made against Northern Ireland. One of those was Simon Cox, the West Brom striker.
Cox hit a happy relationship with Robbie Keane immediately and the movement of both players and their combined play provided Northern Ireland's defence with continuous problems.
Said Cox: "It was a good win and I was delighted to cap it off with a nice goal. I was coming in to get to know the lads and the manager and the way we play and I set out to go out there and enjoy the game.
"Coming into a game of this stature was massive for me - I could see how important it was; everybody was geeing each other up before the game and the way everybody celebrated the goals it was obvious how important it was.
"I wanted to put in a performance to put my mark on the manager's card to get into the next squad and maybe into the squad for Macedonia."
Winning the Carling Nations' Cup is a major target in its own right and, to add to the significance of Sunday's match, the upcomiug European Championship tie against Macedonia on June 4 is the big focal point for Trapattoni and his squad.
Sunday's contest with Scotland will be watched with particular interest in that context. Seamus Coleman confirmed his obvious potential, Simon Ward and Kevin Foley looked razor sharp after a torrid season with Wolves while Keith Andrews returned after a long absence to play with customary authority and Simon Cox was hard-working and clever in his work.
In truth, all of the Republic's players could look back with satisfaction on their performances on a night when they took full advantage of Northern Ireland's inexperience and the kindly break of the ball.
This was illustrated most effectively just before half-time when Coleman cut a ball powerfully across the face of goal and goalkeeper Alan Blayney threw himself forward to palm the ball away. His deflection caused the ball to crash into the legs of Craig Cathcart and back into the net.
This was the Republic's third goal and effectively took all the tension out of the contest. Stephen Ward scored the first in the 24th minute when Blayney parried a cross from Keith Treacy and Ward showed his striker's instincts by whipping the rebound home.
Robbie Keane claimed his first goal in the 37th minute with an ice-cool chip over Blayney as he pounced on a mistake by the youthful Lee Hodson. He had his second eight minutes into the second half when he converted the penalty after being pushed by Alan Thompson and Cox claimed the goal he deserved with a crisp finish in the 80th minute.
Republic of Ireland: Shay Given (Manchester City); Paul McShane (Hull City), Stephen Kelly (Fulham), Damien Delaney (Ipswich), Stephen Ward (Wolves); Seamus Coleman (Everton), Keith Andrews (Blackburn Rovers), Kevin Foley (Wolves), Keith Treacy (Preston North End); Robbie Keane (‘Spurs), Simon Cox (West Brom).
Substitutes: Liam Lawrence (Portsmouth) for Coleman 55, Andy Keogh (Wolves) for Keane 62, Stephen Hunt (Wolves) for Foley 70, David Forde (Millwall) for Given 72
Northern Ireland: Blayney (Linfield); Thompson (Watford), Cathcart (Blackpool), McAuley (West Brom), Hodson (Watford); Carson (Ipswich), Davis (Rangers), Clingan (Coventry City), Gorman (Wolves); McQuoid (Millwall), Feeney (Oldham Athletic).
Substitutes: Norwood (Manchester United) for McQuoid 46, Coates (Crusaders) for Gorman 55, Boyce (Werder Bremen) for Feeney 72, McGinn for Carson 72, Garrett (Linfield) for Davis 76.