Football: Republic miss opportunities

Republic of Ireland 0 Lithuania 0
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The Independent Online
The Republic of Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy, was proud of his team last night - even though they dropped two vital World Cup points to Lithuania at Lansdowne Road.

McCarthy saw chance after chance go begging as the Irish totally dominated the Group Eight qualifier, but he refused to point the finger at his players after a night of frustration.

"We ran Lithuania off the park and had a right go tonight and while the result is disappointing I'm satisfied with everything else," McCarthy said. "We played exceptionally well and created enough chances to have won three games, but I won't criticise individual players who miss chances."

Manchester United's Roy Keane and Reading's veteran player-coach, Ray Houghton, ran the game from midfield. But Houghton missed two great chances, including a one-on-one with Lithuania's heroic goalkeeper, Gintaras Stauce. Keane was also defied by the keeper before twice failing to connect with crosses in front of a gaping goal.

McCarthy employed the big striker Niall Quinn in his first international for more than a year and then replaced him with the equally towering Tony Cascarino on the hour - to no avail.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Given (Newcastle); Kenna (Blackburn), Staunton (Aston Villa), Keane (Manchester Utd), Cunningham (Wimbledon), Harte (Leeds), Townsend (Aston Villa), Houghton (Reading), Quinn (Sunderland), Connolly (Feyenoord), Kennedy (Liverpool). Substitutes: Cascarino (Nancy) for Quinn, 60; McLoughlin (Portsmouth) for Kennedy, 79; D Kelly (Tranmere) for Townsend, 86.

LITHUANIA: Stauce (unattached); Ziukas (VfL Leipzig), Kancelskis (Kareda Siauliai), Tereskinas (Zalgiris Vilnius), Vainoras (Sokol Saratov), Skerla (Zalgiris Vilnius), R Zutautas (Alania Vladikavkaz), Mikalajunas (Kareda Siauliai), Preiksaitis (Torpedo Moscow), Jankauskas (Torpedo Moscow), Narbekovas (Admira Wacker). Substitutes: Suliauskas (Zalgiris Vilnius) for Preiksaitis, h-t; Buitkus (Kaunas) for Jankauskas, 58; Suika (Silkeborg) for Buitkus, 84.

Referee: J Coroado Monteiro (Portugal).

n The Group Eight leaders Romania, who beat Macedonia 4-2, became the first European nation to qualify for next year's finals.