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Ireland crush Argentina

DUBLIN, May 29 – World Cup-bound Algeria looked toothless in attack and shaky in defence as they suffered a tame 3-0 defeat to Ireland in a World Cup friendly here on Friday.Veteran Robbie Keane scored a brace and Paul Green one goal against the Algerians, who are drawn in Group A of the June 11-July 11 finals in South Africa alongside England, Slovenia and the United States.

Ireland, controversially denied a spot in the World Cup finals after their fate was sealed thanks to an unseen Thierry Henry handball in a play-off against France, dominated proceedings and fully deserved the win.

After an uneventful first half-hour, Green got the scoreboard ticking with his first goal for Ireland in just his second appearance.

The Derby County player bravely went for a Liam Lawrence free-kick that bounced between the striker and goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi, a diving header seeing the ball into the back of the goal.

Algeria could afford to be upset that the assistant referee failed to spot a blatant offside from three Irish players.

But the north Africans could not complain about not getting on the scoresheet, having failed to get even a single shot on target in the opening period.

They came closest when Abdelkader Ghezzal made a threatening run into the Irish box, but Sean St Ledger produced a perfect sliding tackle to deny the Sienna striker.

Things got worse for Algeria when Celtic’s much-travelled Keane, the Ireland captain, scored Ireland’s second six minutes into the second-half.

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A neat Damien Duff cross was poorly cleared by Chaouchi and Keane was on hand to swivel and dink the ball over the stranded keeper’s despairing dive into the net to stretch his Irish goal scoring record to 41 in 99 games.

Chaouchi was on hand shortly after to make a smart one-handed save from Keane, who minutes later saw a scrambled effort come off the post as Algeria struggled badly to contain the Irish long-ball tactic.

The home side’s midfielder Keith Andrews went close with a free-kick with nine minutes to play as both sides made a host of changes that disrupted the natural rhythm of the game.

After Adlene Guedioura saw a strong header come back off the posts, the Irish broke and it was that man Keane brought down in the Algerian box under a clumsy challenge from Djamel Mesbah.

The former Leeds, Liverpool and Tottenham striker stepped up and converted the penalty to compound Algeria coach’s Rabah Saadane planning ahead of what will undoubtedly be a most testing trip to South Africa.

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