Republic of Ireland 0 - 3 Australia
Published: August 12, 2009
John O'Shea fires goalward (Credit: Gary Fox)
Click here for to view the action in Pictures courtesy of Gary Fox
SLOPPY defence and a failure to find a finishing touch will give Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni plenty to think about as his Irish side fell to a 3-0 loss at the hands of Australia at Thomond Park.
Just a month out from their World Cup qualifier against Cyprus, it would not be the showing the Italian manager would have been looking for in the lead-up.
Two first half goals from Everton midfielder Tim Cahill and a late injury time effort from David Carney saw the Socceroos claim a match which failed to really find its feet throughout.
Limerick handed a warm welcome to the two sides in soccer’s first excursion out of the capital in two decades, although organisers would have been disappointed in the sale of the pricey €55 main stand tickets which was well down on capacity, the crowd totaling 19,428. Manchester United’s Darron Gibson was given the nod ahead of Keith Andrews in the Ireland midfield, a move that Giovanni Trapattoni had hinted at a day earlier. Meanwhile Australia kept the side Pim Verbeek had named on Tuesday with Scott McDonald the sole striker up front, supported by Mark Bresciano, Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell in the midfield. Goal keeper Mark Schwarzer wore the captain’s armband with regular leader uncontracted Lucas Neill starting the game on the bench.
Defender Luke Wilkshire gave the visitors their first opportunity with the match just seven minutes old, grazing a ball past the right post from straight in front with the side holding the slight edge on momentum.
Kewell then forced a save from Shay Given, diving low to his left to stop the shot which came when Bresciano tapped the ball inside from a free kick and Kewell drove it towards goal. Ireland looked ominous though on 13 minutes as Robbie Keane’s header from an Aiden McGeady cross went just over the bar.
Rhys Williams was fouled by Kevin Kilbane on the edge of the box to hand the Socceroos another opportunity, but Wilkshire’s free went high.
Damien Duff attempted to drill one from close range at the opposite end but was met by a wall of Australian defence, before Patrick Kisnorbo nearly snuck one into the right corner of the goal for the visitors.
But it was a solo effort by captain Keane which had the Limerick crowd almost on its feet, making a threatening incursion into the box, and getting a shot away, but Schwarzer was up to the task and came out to meet the rising ball and punch it away in front of the left post. The game tempo slowed up somewhat around the half-hour mark. McGeady tried to find a way through for Ireland, but his curling right footer flew just wide. The home side was beginning to look the aggressor and every time they turned to bring the ball downfield, the patriotic crowd lifted as one, trying to inspire something.
But it was the Socceroos who snatched first blood in the 38th minute as Cahill tapped in an incredibly soft goal, Given obviously believing the shot from straight in front was rolling wide as he turned to watch it roll home. McDonald had set up the shot for Cahill who had initially played it onto him further down the field. He drifted down into the box, his timing impeccable as he flicked it left to the Everton star.
The pain was doubled in the 44th minute as Cahill claimed Australia’s second, after Williams took a shot which rebounded off Given, Cahill on hand from close range to punish the rebound and give the Australian’s a 2-0 half-time lead.
As expected both sides made a number of substitutions at the break, both Duff and Doyle coming off for Ireland, while Cahill, McDonald and Kisnorbo replaced for the Socceroos. The visitors continued to press as some good lead-up work by substitute midfielder Brett Holman almost had Bresciano in, before he took a shot himself which Given saved comfortably.
But it was Ireland that should have pegged one back 15 minutes into the half when Glenn Whelan back-passed to Stephen Hunt in prime position, Hunt lining up well and with time, but spewing it wide to the right.
It was beginning to dwindle into a dour affair, the crowd sending out the ‘Ireland’ chant in an attempt to lift their losing side and Keane almost answered their call as he turned and shot near the right post, but it was deflected away by the defence.
Sean St Ledger put one over the bar from a Hunt corner in a half chance, but Ireland’s best chance of the half came with three minutes of regular time left as Andrews hit the left post which was followed up with a close range header which Schwarzer grabbed over his head. But the home side could not give its loyal audience a happy ending to an otherwise disappointing evening and Australia finished in style as a long-range David Carney effort found the top corner of the net in injury time.
Ireland: Given (Westwood, 68mins); O’Shea; Dunne, St. Ledger, Kilbane (Nolan, 63mins); McGeady (Long, 82mins), Gibson (Andrews, 63mins), Whelan, Duff (Hunt, 45mins); Keane, Doyle (Folan, 45mins);
Australia: Schwarzer; Wilkinson, North (Spiranovic, 72mins), Kisnorbo (Madaschi, 45mins), Carney; Williams, Jedinak (Holland, 89mins); Bresciano (Carle, 78mins), Cahill (Holman, 45mins), Kewell; McDonald (Rukavytsya, 45mins)