Football

Republic too strong for Italy

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Keith Andrews and Simon Cox teamed up to fire Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland to a 2-0 victory over his native country Italy.

Blackburn midfielder Andrews' sweet 36th-minute strike and a second from substitute Cox at the death secured a fourth successive win for the Republic and extended Trapattoni's unbeaten record against the team he once managed to three games.

Italy enjoyed the lion's share of the possession, but Ireland goalkeeper Mike Forde had few saves of note to make on his first senior international start.

Cesare Prandelli's men may have dominated possession but they failed to make the most of it and when the chances came their way, the Irishmen took them with some aplomb in front of a crowd of 21,516.

The Italians oozed class on a pitch made slick by persistent rain. Giampaolo Pazzini shot wastefully wide from a tight angle with 25 minutes gone after being played in by Claudio Marchisio, and Antonio Nocerino blasted a long-range effort inches over the crossbar two minutes later.

Shane Long and Andy Keogh exchanged passes on the edge of the box before the Reading man dragged a 13th-minute shot across the face of goal to serve warning, but when the breakthrough eventually came nine minutes before the break, it was from an unexpected source.

Alessandro Gamberini was penalised for the latest in a series of fouls on Long 25 yards out, and Stephen Hunt shaped to curl the free-kick towards goal. But he instead tapped the ball sideways to Andrews, whose skidding shot was firm and true as it flew past the diving Emiliano Viviano and into the bottom corner.

Alessandro Matri shot across goal with 54 minutes gone after Pazzini, who was sent off three minutes into the World Cup qualifier in Bari last April, had expertly turned Mattia Cassani's driven pass into his path.

Italy threw everything they had at Ireland as the clock ran down but substitute Sebastian Giovinco's 86th-minute free-kick, which only just cleared the crossbar, was as close as they came to snatching a draw.

However, their hopes were finally dashed at the death when Cox made ground to get on to the end of Hunt's cross to seal a creditable victory.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Keith Andrews
Reading
Football
Blackburn Rovers
Stephen Hunt
Premier League
Shane Long
Simon Cox
Stephen Hunt
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