Everton midfielder Tim Cahill’s brace shortly before half time set Australia up for a comprehensive 3-0 friendly victory over the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday.
Cahill only played 45 minutes but that was enough to score two goals and bring his tally for Australia to 18 goals in 34 games.
A miserable night for Ireland was compounded when David Carney’s shot arrowed into the top left hand corner of the net from all of 30 yards in injury time at the end of the second half.
With Australia missing captain Lucas Neill and defensive shield Vince Grella they were expected to be weaker at the back but instead it was the hosts’ slack defending which decided the contest and will concern Giovanni Trapattoni ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Cyprus in three weeks’ time.
In the 38th minute, Ireland left a two-versus two at the back which Cahill took advantage of, feeding Scott McDonald down the inside right channel. The Celtic striker passed back to the Everton midfielder 20 yards out and his low left-footed strike wrong-footed Given to put his side in front.
Then a minute before the interval, Aiden McGeady lazily looked to take a ball in his stride on the left wing but was beaten to it by Rhys Williams who raced into the box and turned Kilbane.
He fired a shot and Given could only parry the ball back into the danger area where Cahill lay in wait to power home.
The nearest Ireland came to getting on the scoresheet was when substitute Keith Andrews’ low 88th minute strike from the edge of the area came back off Schwarzer’s right post.
Though 2-0 was flattering enough at the break, it could have been an even greater lead for the visitors had Harry Kewell not headed over Mark Bresciano’s free kick at the back post, after which the Galatasaray man pleaded for a penalty for Damian Duff pulling his shirt.
Prior to Cahill’s first strike, the game was an even affair with McGeady the best player on view. Twice midway through the half he created openings moving inside from the left flank to set up Irish chances.
A measured cross-field ball enabled Duff on the right wing to cut inside the area onto his left foot, but Carney deflected his effort wide.
Then a neat pass into the box found Robbie Keane whose drop of the shoulder had Patrick Kisnorbo heading back to Leeds United but Mark Schwarzer got down to save well.
Earlier Kisnorbo’s header from a corner was saved and held well at full stretch by Given, denying the prowling McDonald the opportunity to score his first Australia goal.
Ireland created few chances in the second half with Stephen Hunt’s left-footed effort, after Keane’s neat backheel, which skewed wide summing up a very disappointing first international football game for the home fans at Thomond Park.
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