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Confident Ireland breeze past Cyprus

Saturday, 4 September 2004

By Aidan Fitzmaurice at Lansdowne Road

[1] The Republic of Ireland got off to the ideal start to their 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign as they eased to a 3-0 win against Cyprus in Dublin.

Irish joy

[2] Goals from Clinton Morrison, Andy Reid, and a record-equalling strike from Robbie Keane gave the home crowd plenty to cheer and a confidence boost ahead of Wednesday's Group 4 trip to Switzerland.

Home domination

[3] Cyprus struggled to cope with the Irish early on, with their only impression on the first 23 minutes of the game being cautions for both Lambros Lambrou and Konstantinos Charalambidis. Yet it took Ireland until the 33rd minute before they finally made the breakthrough.

Morrison opener

[4] After missing two chances earlier in the game, it was a case of third time lucky for Clinton Morrison, who met Damien Duff's left-wing cross to power a header past goalkeeper Nikos Panagiotou. The goal was Morrison's first in 12 games for the Republic of Ireland.

Stunning second

[5] Cyprus were still coming to terms with that goal when Andy Reid made it 2-0 on 38 minutes, the second goal in two games for the young Dubliner. Reid collected a short pass from Duff, made space for himself and spotting Panagiotou off his line, curled a superb shot past the goalkeeper from 30 metres out.

Record breaker

[6] The Cypriots hung on until half-time without conceeding again, but found themselves 3-0 down on 55 minutes. Left-winger Duff embarked on one of his mazy runs and worked his way into the box, where he was tripped by Georgios Theodotou. Referee Levan Paniashvili pointed to the spot and Keane made no mistake, claiming his 21st goal in 53 games for the Republic and equalling Niall Quinn's international scoring record.

One-way traffic

[7] Brian Kerr's side were in complete control and Irish goalkeeper Shay Given was only called on once, when he kept out a shot by Michael Konstantinou on 65 minutes. The Cypriots offered nothing else, while Ireland had more chances, the best of them falling to substitute Alan Lee, who forced a save from Panagiotou on 85 minutes from a good pass by fellow replacement Alan Maybury.

Robbie Keane scored Ireland's third goal