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Ireland V Saudi Arabia - World Cup 2002
Damien Duff Celebrates
his Goal against Saudi Arabia
Following successive draws against Cameroon and Germany in the earlier group matches the Republic of Ireland would qualify for the knockout stages with a win over Saudi Arabia by two goals in Yokohama on 11 June. This looked very possible as the Saudis had been thrashed 8-0 by Germany earlier in the group. The Middle East team had improved in their second match and had lost by a single goal to Cameroon.
If there was a winner in the match between Germany and Cameroon then any kind of a win over Saudi Arabia would have seen Ireland qualify for the next round. As both matches were being played at the same time the Irish could not rely upon such a result and had to take the initiative form the first whistle at the International Stadium in Yokohama, Japan. Saudi proved to be spirited but it did not take long for Ireland to get the breakthrough goal.
Keane Scores Against Saudi Arabia
In the eight minute Robbie Keane struck to settle any nerves within the Irish team. Fullback Gary Kelly controlled a pass from Steven Staunton and quickly crossed into the box with his left foot. Keane volleyed the cross past Saudi keeper Al-Daeyea. One-nil to Ireland.
It looked as though the flood gates might open and the Irish might register a very big win. The Saudis had other ideas however and regrouped to thwart any further Irish threats for the rest of the first half. Indeed Saudi Arabia had a good chance when Shay Given was forced to save a low drive from Al-Jahani.
Despite the great start and early goal it was turning out to be a long day at the office for the Irish
Gary Breen Scores Against Saudi Arabia
Mick McCarthy made a change at half-time bringing on the aerial threat of Niall Quinn for Ian Harte. While not directly involved in the second Irish goal the mere presence of Quinn may have distracted the Saudi defenders sufficiently to allow space for the second goal from an unusual source. A beautifully flighted free kick from captain Stephen Staunton on the left landed close to the Saudi penalty spot. Defender Gary Breen ghosted past a couple of Saudi defenders to fire home Staunton's cross after 62 minutes. Once the second goal had been secured the Irish relaxed and continued to dominate the rest of the match.
Damien Duff Makes it 3 - 0 Against Saudi Arabia
The Irish dominance produced more chances but it took the very impressive Damien Duff to add the icing to the Irish qualification for the last 16 of the 2002 World Cup. A run and shot by Duff managed to elude Al-Daeyea's grasp and nestled in the back of the net. In a moment saviour Duff celebrated his 88th minute goal with an exaggerated oriental-type bow to the Irish fans.
As it turned out the Germans had beaten Cameroon 2-0 so the extra goals were not required however the Irish team and fans were delighted to have a handsome win to celebrate as they anticipated the next round of the World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea.
Ireland V Saudi Arabia Post-Match Comments
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy was delighted with the win but admitted to having some anxious moments during the match "Everyone has a good time watching it, but you want to try sitting in that dugout with your backside in the bacon slicer! We played very well in the second half but first half, after getting a great start, we were very nervous. This was a big game for us."
In a reference to the Saipan affair and the forthcoming knockout stage McCarthy said "People thought we would get beaten in the first two games but whoever we meet won't be relishing the thought of playing us on Sunday."
The FAI chief executive Brendan Menton was glowing about McCarthy after the Saudi result. "Mick has done a fantastic job and it was a very difficult decision [to send Roy Keane of Manchester United home following the Saipan Incident] to make as a manager, but there is no doubt now he made the right decision. To come through with the African champions going out of the group - which was a group of death - and come through in second place is down to Mick McCarthy and his squad and the way he set out the team."
2002 World Cup Finals - Republic of Ireland v Saudi Arabia Match Statistics
Ireland v Saudia Arabia 2002 World Cup Finals - Team Line Ups
Arabia: Mohammed Al-Daeyea (captain), Mohammed
Al-Jahani (Ahmed Al Dossari 78), Redha Tokar, Abdullah Suleiman Al-Zubromawi
(Abdallah Al Dossari 68), Fouzi Al-Shehri, Ibrahim Al-Shahrani, Hussein
Al-Sulimani, Abdulaziz Al-Khathran (Al Shlhoub 67), Khamis Al-Owairan
Al Dossari, Nawaf Al-Temyat, Al-Hassan Al-Yami.
Rep of Ireland: Shay
Given, Steve Finnan, Steve Staunton (captain), Gary Breen, Ian Harte (Niall
Quinn 46), Gary Kelly (Jason McAteer 80), Mark Kinsella (Lee Carsley 89),
Matt Holland, Kevin Kilbane, Robbie Keane, Damien Duff.
Attendance: 65,320 - Referee: Falla Ndoye from Senegal
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