The Republic of Ireland warmed up for their decisive final Group B qualifier at home against Armenia next week with a comfortable 2-0 win in Andorra.
First-half goals from Kevin Doyle and Aiden McGeady kept the Irish in second place in the section, two points behind leaders Russia who won in Slovakia and face Andorra next. Giovanni Trapattoni's men know they will at least guarantee second place, and a play-off spot, by avoiding defeat against third-placed Armenia in Dublin on Tuesday.
Ireland flew out of the traps and might have scored even before Doyle's eighth-minute opener. Doyle, a scorer when the teams met in Dublin 13 months ago, was foiled by José Gómes, and Robbie Keane then hit the crossbar. The breakthrough came when, after Keane had an effort blocked from a corner, Andorra failed to clear and Glenn Whelan headed the ball back towards goal where Doyle swivelled and flicked it home.
For the second, Whelan fed a free-kick to McGeady on the left side of the box and he fired in a shot across goal. José Gómes got a hand to the ball, only to see it bounce against Marcio Vieira and back into the net.
Robbie Keane ballooned over the best chance of a low-key second half. At the other end, Andorra offered little threat of repeating the qualifying goal they got in their 3-1 loss in Dublin – still their only goal of the campaign. The Irish defence is now unbreached in eight games, a record sequence running back to the 3-2 March defeat by Uruguay and comprising 769 minutes.
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