Duff hails ‘massive win’ as Ireland edge Macedonia

The Republic of Ireland move level on points at the top of Group B after 2-1 victory over Macedonia

Euro 2012 Qualifier, 26 MARCH 2011, Aviva Stadium
team1
Ireland
McGeady (2) Keane (21)
2 - 1
team2
Macedonia
Trickovski (45)

Aiden McGeady and Robbie Keane both struck first-half goals to help the Republic of Ireland seal an unconvincing 2-1 victory over Macedonia on Saturday.

McGeady put the hosts in front after just 84 seconds and Keane doubled their lead in the 21st minute as the pair capitalised on two goalkeeping errors from Macedonia’s Edin Nuredinoski.

Ivan Trickovski out-foxed Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne and stroked a finish past Keiren Westwood to slash the hosts’ lead just before the break.

But Giovanni Trapattoni’s men held on, and Russia’s stalemate against Armenia in the earlier game on Saturday afternoon ensured the Republic moved joint top of Group B, level with Russia and Slovakia.

And Republic of Ireland and Fulham winger Damien Duff is confident his side can qualify for the 2012 tournament.

“There are no easy games in Europe anymore,” said Duff. “Macedonia put up a great fight but it’s a massive three points.

“We believe we can do it. We went close to the last World Cup and we’re going to put in a big effort to get to Ukraine and Poland.”

Duff added: “We knew the Russia result coming in so that gave us a little lift.

“We have to make this [Aviva Stadium] a fortress like Lansdowne Road used to be and this result goes a long way to that.”

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