Football: Irish aim for table-topping performance

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The Independent Online
JACK CHARLTON'S Republic of Ireland team can move another step nearer next summer's World Cup finals today in Vilnius, where a win over Lithuania would put them two points clear of Spain at the top of their qualifying group with three matches to play.

Paul McGrath, the Aston Villa centre-half who is set to win his 61st cap, said: 'It might still be a bit premature to suggest that we have made it if we beat Lithuania. But it would then become very close, especially as we play them again in Dublin in September.'

McGrath was on target with a header in the 2-0 win over Latvia on the Republic's first visit to the Baltic last Wednesday. Now they should add a record third away win in a row, even though Lithuania are rated a tougher proposition than their neighbours and bottom-placed Albania.

Charlton believes that Denmark, the European champions, are the most likely side to fill the other qualifying place in Group Three as the Spaniards, notoriously poor travellers, must still travel to Albania as well as Dublin before finishing off with a potentially decisive home clash with the Danes.

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