International round-up: No party for Keane's century as Irish suffer at hands of Di Maria
Thursday 12 August 2010
Argentina dampened down the celebrations surrounding the Republic of Ireland's return to Lansdowne Road and Robbie Keane's 100th cap by easing to a 1-0 win in Dublin last night.
With the Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni absent from the re-named Aviva Stadium following minor stomach surgery earlier in the day, the home side barely created a chance against Argentina, themselves under caretaker manager Sergio Batista following Diego Maradona's departure last month.
The new Real Madrid winger Angel di Maria scored the winner in controversial fashion, chipping Shay Given in the 20th minute from what looked to be an offside position. Andy Keogh flicked a Keith Treacy cross over the bar close to the end but for long periods the Irish were second best.
In Stockholm, Craig Levein suffered his first defeat as Scotland manager and goalkeeper Allan McGregor endured a difficult return to the team as an experimental side slumped to a 3-0 defeat to Sweden.
Fresh from deciding to call off his international retirement, Zlatan Ibrahimovic wasted little time in giving the Swedes the lead, latching onto a Pontus Wernbloom pass in the fourth minute to beat McGregor from 12 yards.
The Scotland goalkeeper was winning his first cap since being banned for his part in "Boozegate" last year but was beaten again six minutes before half-time when he failed to hold Emir Bajrami's angled drive, the winger following up to score from a tight angle.
Going in 2-0 down at half-time was rather harsh on Scotland, Barry Robson having gone close with curling free-kick. There was a controversial element to the home side's third goal nine minutes after the restart when Bajrami's ball from the left appeared to cross the line but play continued and Ola Toivonen was first to the ball to score with a header. Kris Boyd missed a good chance to pull one back soon after, goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson blocking his point-blank effort, and in the end Scotland were well beaten.
Northern Ireland are now 10 games without a win and seven without a goal as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat in Podgorica to Montenegro, who are in England's qualifying group for the 2012 European Championships. Radomir Djalovic scored both the home side's goals either side of half-time, a close-range finish after Mirko Vucinic's effort had been blocked and an unmarked header at the far post enough to see off Nigel Worthington's side.
Wales travel to Montenegro for their first Euro 2012 qualifier next month and John Toshack's side warmed up with a 5-1 win over Luxembourg at Parc-y-Scarlets in Llanelli. They were being held 1-1 at half-time when Joel Kitenge produced a spectacular long-range equaliser after Swansea's David Cotterill had put Wales ahead. However, inspired by a fine individual display from captain Craig Bellamy, the home side took charge in the second half and goals from the Manchester City striker, Andy King, Ashley Williams and a Joe Ledley penalty wrapped things up, Luxembourg's Mario Mutsch getting sent off for a second booking with 13 minutes to go.
Elsewhere, Germany and the Netherlands both fielded inexperienced line-ups but came away with respectable draws against Denmark and Ukraine respectively. Meanwhile, in Laurent Blanc's first game in charge, a France side deprived off their suspended World Cup squad took the lead against Norway in Oslo through Marseille winger Hatem Ben Arfa but eventually slipped to a 2-1 defeat.
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