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Ireland Player Ratings

Shay Given 8

Considering his lack of first-team action of late and that he injured his groin early in the game, this display must rank up there with some of Given's best for Ireland. Made big saves at key times, denying Pandev after Keane's opener and then a superb second-half stop to kill off Macedonia's hopes.

Stephen Kelly 7

Aside from a lapse of concentration that allowed Pandev in early on, a solid enough shift from the Fulham defender -- another who has been collecting splinters at club level this term. Had to be extra alert on that flank with dangerous full-back Goran Popov roving forward.

John O'Shea 6

A torrid opening half for the Manchester United man, who admitted that he was lucky not to concede a penalty when hauling Pandev to the ground. That could have been a red card offence. Gave away penalty before break, but regrouped at the interval to produce strong second-half display.

Darren O'Dea 7

Anxious moments in a chaotic first half and, having already come into the game with an ankle problem, he found himself sprawled on the turf after another clash in the box. Rose to task in second half and, in the context of his recent inactivity, a good showing all things considered.

Kevin Kilbane 6

Competent outing from the veteran who didn't try anything too complicated and made an important early interception from a Macedonian counter. The end of his career may be approaching, yet it seems likely that he will be in situ for the crunch encounters in the autumn.

Stephen Hunt 8

He really is the ideal player for this kind of game. Dual role in terms of keeping Popov quiet and also venturing infield on occasion to support the midfield duo. Revealed afterwards that he needed a painkilling injection at half-time to relieve an Achilles problem. Sterling show.

Keith Andrews 7

Neither side was really keeping the ball for any period of time in the first half and Andrews initially struggled to get a foothold in the game, although he did thread the ball through for opening goal. However, he was quietly influential after the resumption and made some timely interventions. Solid, if not spectacular.

Glenn Whelan 6

The Stoke midfielder was a doubt leading up to the game with an ankle complaint and therefore deserves credit for his part in the victory. Has a specific role within Trapattoni's team and stuck rigidly to the instructions. Didn't venture too far forward and sat very tight to his defence in the second half.

Aiden McGeady 7

Acknowledged that things didn't quite go his way in the first half, yet he was one of Ireland's shining lights in the second half. When Ireland needed to run the clock down, McGeady was a useful out ball. Embarked on a number of mazy runs that won free-kicks or corners and nearly set up a third for Keane.

Robbie Keane 9

The final 24 hours in the build-up were dominated by talk of his condition. It makes his match-winning achievements all the more impressive. Showed predatory instinct to score twice, with confident finish for second. Dropped deep when necessary and led by example to demonstrate the folly of writing him off.

Simon Cox 6

Did nothing wrong after his rapid promotion to a game of such importance. Linked up well at times in the first half, but was bypassed on a number of occasions with long balls forward sailing over his head. Can reflect with some pride on the last fortnight after cementing his place in Trapattoni's Irish set-up.


Shane Long 6

(for Cox 65 minutes)

The Tipperary native arrived at a time when Ireland were concentrating on containment and showed some nice touches without ever really getting a proper opportunity in the final third.

Giovanni Trapattoni 8

Has to rate as one of the more satisfying victories of his tenure when you consider he was missing three key players and was then furious about the controversial absence of several others. Didn't affect preparation for this potential banana skin and, ultimately, got the balance in his team just right.

Irish Independent