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Keane gives Trapattoni his first win

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 May 2008

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Giovanni Trapattoni savoured his first win as Republic of Ireland manager as Robbie Keane's goal clinched a 1-0 friendly victory over Colombia here on Thursday.

Trapattoni's first game had ended in a draw against Serbia on Saturday but Keane's deflected strike early in the first half at Fulham's Craven Cottage was enough to get him off the mark.

It was fitting that Irish captain Keane should be the player to win it for Trapattoni because the Italian believes the Tottenham forward can be his version of AS Roma icon Francesco Totti.

The serious business for Trapattoni starts next season when Ireland start their World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Montenegro, but the veteran coach will be encouraged by this result.

Colombia used the match as preparation for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Ecuador and gave an impressive display that only lacked a cutting edge.

A four-match unbeaten run has raised hopes that Jorge Luis Pinto's side can reach the World Cup for the first time in 12 years and over 5,000 Colombians turned one end of Craven Cottage into a vibrant swathe of yellow.

It took only three minutes for Keane to temporarily puncture that optimism as Colombia were punished for squandering possession just outside the penalty area.

Keane's shot deflected off Elvis Gonzalez and looped over stranded goalkeeper Robinson Zapata, just crossing the line before Christian Zapata could clear.

This may have been an end of season friendly but it was played at a ferocious pace. Keane threatened again with a curling shot that drifted wide of the far post.

Juan Carlos Escobar's surging run and shot brought Irish goalkeeper Dean Kiely into action for the first time midway through the half.

Escobar tested Kiely more seriously moments later when he met Ruben Bustos's cross with a bullet header but the Irish keeper produced a fine save.

Ireland were struggling to cope with Colombia's counter attacks and Falcao Garcia was only denied an equaliser by Liam Miller's goalline clearance.

Kiely was in superb form and he frustrated Colombia just before half-time with a brilliant double stop. First he plunged to his right to push away Garcia's shot, then he sprang to his feet and kept out Edixon Perea's follow-up effort.

The Ireland supporter who accepted his girlfriend's marriage proposal on the pitch at half-time probably didn't care much, but his team were on the back foot after the break.

Yet for all their neat approach work the closest Colombia came to equalising was Perea's shot straight at Kiely after a flowing move on the hour.

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