Football: Duff inspires Republic's knock-out punch

Rep of Ireland 1 O'Brien 21 Portugal 0 Half-time: 1-0 Att: 44,100

THE IRISH, so the saying goes, don't do friendly matches. And they didn't do last night in inflicting the first defeat on a talented Portuguese side since they lost in the final of Euro 2004. There was fire in the bellies throughout and none more so than in Damien Duff who, winning his 50th cap, turned in a performance of stunning commitment and skill. Not only was he Ireland's best attacker he was their best defender as well and also came in for some ferocious challenges. He left, after 69 minutes, to another standing ovation.

"Sensational," said the Republic of Ireland's manager, Brian Kerr who, like everyone else, is running out of superlatives for the 25-year-old. Sensational would also describe Kerr's record. This was some scalp to add to the Netherlands and Czech Republic and clean sheets against Brazil and France. Just two defeats in 25 games, just one goal in six and 10 shut-outs in 14 in repelling Portugal who had scored 20 times in five matches.

Duff's performance was witnessed by his Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, who must of winced at some of the tackles inflicted on his player who, it appeared, was intent on challenging his boss's claim that Paulo Ferreira is the world's best right-back. Ferreira lasted 45 minutes as did the impressive Tiago. Indeed, the whole Portuguese team was impressive, better than Brazil, Kerr claimed. "I thought they were excellent," he said, "the best team to play here since maybe the last time Portugal did." That was 2001 and in the last World Cup qualifiers.

Portugal will undoubtedly be in Germany next year as well and their manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari, said that facing Ireland presented his players with the "physical challenge" they do not usually face. That was a harsh assessment although when, on four minutes, Duff squared up to Cristiano Ronaldo it was an arresting sight. The Portuguese had the better of the opening, but suddenly Ireland shifted through the gears. And it was Duff's foot on the pedal.

He collected Clinton Morrison's tidy work, tore down the right, checked back and crossed for Robbie Keane to make a hash of his header. No matter, he thrust forward again and as Kevin Kilbane broke into the box he was pulled down. A corner was given instead of a penalty. But from it Kilbane headed on and Andy O'Brien stabbed home his first goal in his 18th international match.

Portugal came back. Ronaldo worked through his tricks - nutmegging Duff - but the Irishman was having none of it. He feinted, jinked, beat two men and again teed up Keane. The ball was whisked from his toe. That was in the second half and Portugal quickly rang through their substitutions. Their challenge faltered and Keane harrassed Ricardo Costa into poking the ball against his own post while the clever Andy Reid, after a brilliant touchline dribble, dragged shots. Duff even got himself booked for tripping Ronaldo.

Portugal continued to dominate possession, however, and a shot by Hugo Viana appeared to have beaten Given. Instead it billowed the outside of the net. At the end Scolari said the result did not matter. What did, he said, was the experience. It was a tough one. Would he want Duff in the Portuguese side? "He's Irish," Scolari noted. And Dublin rejoiced at that.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (4-4-2): Given (Newcastle United); Finnan (Liverpool), Cunningham (Birmingham City), O'Brien (Newcastle), O'Shea (Manchester United); Duff (Chelsea), Holland (Charlton Athletic), Kilbane (Everton), Reid (Tottenham Hotspur); Morrison (Birmingham), Keane (Tottenham Hotspur). Substitutes: Kavanagh (Cardiff City) for Kilbane, h-t; Dunne (Manchester City) for Cunningham, 59; Miller (Manchester United) for Duff, 69; McGeady (Celtic) for Keane, 83.

PORTUGAL (4-2-1-2-1): Ricardo (Sporting Lisbon); Ferreira (Chelsea), Andrade (Deportivo La Coruna), Caneira (Valencia), Rogerio Matias (Vitoria); Petit (Benfica), Tiago (Chelsea); Deco (Barcelona); Ronaldo (Manchester United), Simao (Benfica); Pauleta (Paris St Germain). Substitutes: Viana (Sporting Lisbon) for Ferreira, h-t; Nuno Gomes (Benfica) for Pauleta, h-t; Meira (VFB Stuttgart) for Tiago, h-t; R Costa (Porto) for Deco, h- t; Boa Morte (Fulham) for Simao, 61; Fernandes (Benfica) for Ronaldo, 70.

Referee: M Messias (England)

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick