26 March, 2011

Macedonia goalkeeper resurrects Ireland's European qualification hopes:

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PIVOTAL MOMENT: second Ireland goal hits the back of the net
There's an old saying in football that "goal - keepers can't win you games, but they can certainly lose you games." That was the case at the AVIVA stadium tonight as Macedonia's (reserve) Number One cost his side two goals and ended their hopes of challenging for the top two positions in a Group that is poised on a knife-edge with Russia drawing away to Armenia earlier in the day.
Talented Trichkovski (number 7): almost earned Macedonia a point
The Republic of Ireland have gone joint top of their qualifying Group having over - come a resolute FYR Macedonia side who can consider themselves unlucky not to have gotten something from the game. Ireland went ahead after 65 seconds when (man-of-the-match) Aiden McGeady's speculative 20 yard effort bounced over the goalkeeper's fingertips and into the far corner of the net.
The home side went 2-0 up on 20 minutes thanks to another goalkeeping error. Back-up 'keeper Nuredinoski spilled a Darren Gibson free-kick straight into the path of Robbie Keane and Robbie doesn't miss a gaping goal from eight yards out. As has so often been the story with sides managed by Giovanni Trapatoni; Ireland went on the back foot there after and adopted a "What we have, we hold," mentalilty; when Macedonia really appeared to be the proverbial wounded deer who only needed to be devoured.
Vital late Westwood save ensured three points were Ireland's
The visitors got back into the game thanks to a very smart turn and finish from striker Ivan Trickovski. The youngster received the ball 20 yards from goal, before losing his man and finishing cooly past Kieran Westwood on the stroke of half-time.  
RELIEVED MAN:  Ireland Manager Giovanni Trapattoni at the final whistle
The second - half petered out somewhat as star man Goran Pandev was kept at close quarters by veteran centre - half Richard Dunne, who has seen it all in the coal face that is the centre of defence. Dunne's yellow card mid-way through the second half rules him out of the return tie in Skopje and his experience will be sorely missed at the back.
SO NEAR AND YET....dejected Macedonia Manager talks candidly post match
Ireland were almost made to pay for their caution late on, as Westwood had to come quickly off his line 15 minutes from time to make a fine save from the ever dangerous Trichkovski. At the final whistle; Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni looked a relieved man whilst Macedonia Head Coach Mirsad Jonuz stated; "With one kick, we lost two goals"....while this statement was not strictly true, the assembled press corps understood what he meant. Tonight's result ends Macedonia's realistic possibilities of getting out of the Group, but Skopje in the dead heat of June will certainly not be an easy tie for the Boys in Green.
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