World Football - Republic of Ireland beaten at home by Greece

International friendly, Aviva Stadium - Republic of Ireland 0 Greece 1 (Holebas 29')

Jose Holebas's first-half goal gave Greece a 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland in their international friendly at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The Olympiacos midfielder beat Ireland goalkeeper David Forde with a low shot from the edge of the box in the 29th minute after good build-up play by Georgios Samaras to settle the contest.

Ireland had few clear-cut chances on Orestis Karnezis's goal, though Simon Cox should have done better with a 10th minute header, and left-back Stephen Ward mis-kicked horribly when well placed late in the game.

There was much to build on for Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni from the performance though, with Seamus Coleman and James McClean impressive down the flanks. However, the cutting edge up front was again lacking, with only three shots on goal despite 61 per cent possession.

Ireland should have been awarded a penalty in the very first minute of the game, when Greece defender Konstantinos Stafylidis seemed to handle Ward's deep cross from the left, but referee Eitan Shmuelevitz waved away the appeals.

The home side then had a great chance to take the lead in the 10th minute.

Coleman and Shane Long played a lovely one-two down the right, and Coleman's cross found Cox, who had managed to drop off the shoulder of Kyriakos Papadopuolos in the area. However, the Nottingham Forest player failed to get a true connection and headed wide from six yards.

Greece, having failed to really trouble Forde's goal in the early stages, took the lead after 29 minutes.

After some assured possession football in midfield, Konstantinos Mitroglou found Samaras on the edge of the box, and the Greece captain in turn put in Holebas.

The 28-year-old still had much to do, but managed to turn John O'Shea before shooting low past Forde from 15 yards.

McClean thought that he should have got a penalty in first-half injury-time, when he managed to get the ball out from under his feet to shoot in the six-yard box.

Greece defender Papadopoulos hurled himself at the ball, which seemed to hit his hand, but referee Shmuelevitz blew up instead for half-time.

Ireland's best chance of the game came in the 69th minute. Substitute Wes Hoolahan's short free-kick found Andy Keogh, and though the Millwall winger's initial shot was blocked, the ball looped up to Ward unmarked on the left hand side of the six-yard box.

However, the Wolves defender mis-kicked horribly and the ball squirted wide.

Stefanos Athanasiadis had a late chance to score a second for the 2004 European champions, but his header from Konstantinos Fortounis's cross from the left looped just over the bar.


Seamus Coleman - Republic of Ireland: Impressed defensively and was ever eager to go beyond the halfway line to support Robbie Brady in the first half, and James McClean in the second.


Republic of Ireland: Forde 6, Coleman 8, O'Shea 6, Clark 6, Ward 6, Brady 7, McCarthy 7, Whelan 6, McClean 8, Cox 6, Long 6. Subs: Andrews 6, Meyler 6, Keogh 7, Hoolahan 7, Doyle 6.

Greece: Karnezis 6, Stafylidis 5, Papadopoulos 7, Tziolis 7, Samaras 7, Mitroglou 7, Torosidis 7, Tachtsidis 7, Ninis 7, Papastathopoulos 7, Holebas 7. Subs: Maniatis 6. Spyropoulos 7, Vyntra 7, Salpingdis 7, Fortounis 7, Athanasiadis 7.