Ireland edge Paraguay

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DUBLIN, May 26- The Republic of Ireland beat World Cup finals qualifiers Paraguay 2-1 here on Tuesday in a match where the South Americans dominated possession but lacked a cutting edge in front of goal.The Irish – who failed to make the finals in South Africa losing controversially in a two-legged play-off against France – scored both their goals in the first-half through Kevin Doyle and Liam Lawrence while there was a goal on his debut for Paraguay’s Argentinian-born Lucas Barrios.

Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino admitted that were his side to make similar errors against world champions Italy in their group match at the finals they would pay dearly.

"We are playing against the last world champions and we have to make sure we make as few mistakes as possible," said Martino, whose side will also face New Zealand – making their first appearance at the finals since 1982 and debutants Slovakia.

"We made mistakes tonight (Tuesday) – very few – but that was what cost us the match.

"If we make those kind of mistakes against Italy, they will take advantage and it could be fatal for us," added the 47-year-old Argentinian, who has been in charge since February 2007.

The Irish made up for lack of possession in the first-half by taking their chances while the South American side looked pretty with the ball but did little when in front of goal especially Barrios.

The hosts had Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz to thank largely for their eighth minute opener as the injury-prone Manchester City forward headed against his own crossbar from Damien Duff’s freekick and desperately tried to make amends by challenging Doyle, but the Wolves striker bundled it over the line.

However, even with that early springboard the Irish were unable to dominate the match as Paraguay put together some neat passing moves and provoked Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni into registering his dismay frequently on the touchline.

The South Americans rarely, though, threatened Keirin Westwood in the Irish goal with only Jonathan Santana’s long range effort going even close to the goal.

And the Irish made them pay when Liam Lawrence scored near half-time as he ran onto Doyle’s chest down and rifled it home.

The hosts almost made it 3-0 in the 51st minute as Duff saw a fierce effort repelled by the Paraguay ‘keeper Aldo Bobadilla and veteran striker Robbie Keane failed to knock in the rebound, firing it high over the bar.

This let-off seemed to energise the visitors and they pulled one back in the 58th minute with a nicely worked move as Jonathan Santana played a 1-2 with Claudio Morel, before teeing up Barrios, who made no mistake from just inside the penalty area.

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