Ireland wins 2-0 at Andorra in Euro qualifier
Kevin Doyle's early goal and a deflected shot from Aiden McGeady gave Ireland a 2-0 win at Andorra in European Championship qualifying Group B on Friday.
The win sets up a showdown with Armenia in Dublin on Tuesday that is likely to decide which of the two goes to the playoffs. Ireland needs only a draw to secure second place.
''I asked the team to start the game with 100 percent determination and not to underestimate the opponents,'' Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni said. ''In the first 10 or 15 minutes we could have been two or three goals ahead. But I'm happy because we played with the same attitude and the same mentality and we had no problems in defense.''
Russia has practically qualified after a 1-0 win at Slovakia left Dick Advocaat's team needing just a draw at home to Andorra.
Doyle fired Ireland in front from close range after John O'Shea made his presence felt at a corner in the eighth minute.
McGeady increased the lead with a shot that deflected in off Ildefons Lima in the 20th and Ireland dominated possession without adding to the scoreline.
The main disappointment for Ireland was a yellow card given for diving against Stephen Ward in the 31st minute that rules the left back out of Tuesday's match with Armenia.
''It's a great pity because I think the referee made a mistake because it was a foul against Stephen,'' Trapattoni said. ''I asked him and he said the player touched his leg. We were asking for a penalty. We have other options, but it is a great pity because he is playing well at this moment.''
Despite falling two goals behind, Andorra's defense kept Irish chances to a minimum for the rest of the match.
Robbie Keane earned a left-wing corner just before half time and from Damien Duff's center, Ward rose unmarked at the back post only to miscue his header.
Irish goalkeeper Shay Given was nearly given a nasty wake-up call when he slipped as he controlled a back pass in stoppage time but recovered before Fernando Silva could close down.
Keane ballooned over the bar from close range when he pounced on a loose ball in the 61st minute but Andorra's defense was showing some character to deny too many clear opportunities.
O'Shea went close to adding his name to the scoresheet when he headed just over the bar from Duff's corner in the 74th.
Ireland must hope Andorra performs a miracle against in Moscow on Tuesday to have any chance of beating the Russians to first place.
''It's possible. It's my job to believe that and if I didn't, I wouldn't go there,'' said Andorra coach Koldo Alvarez.
Andorra: Jose Gomez, Cristian Martinez, Marc Bernaus, Emili Garcia, Ildefons Lima (Oscar Sonejee 81), Marc Pujol (Edu Peppe 60), Marcio Vieira, Fernando Silva, Sergio Moreno, Josep Ayala, Alexandre Gutierrez (Ivan Lorenzo 78).
Ireland: Shay Given, Sean St Ledger, Stephen Ward, John O'Shea, Darren O'Dea, Glenn Whelan (Keith Fahey 65), Aiden McGeady, Keith Andrews, Kevin Doyle (Shane Long 71), Robbie Keane, Damien Duff (Stephen Hunt 75).