Morrison shows sublime touch to spare Republic's blushes

Republic of Ireland 1 - China 0
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The Independent Online

Clinton Morrison spared the blushes of his manager, Brian Kerr, with a goal of pure genius which stood out like a beacon in the dire gloom of this meaningless friendly.

Clinton Morrison spared the blushes of his manager, Brian Kerr, with a goal of pure genius which stood out like a beacon in the dire gloom of this meaningless friendly.

This was one of those games everybody connected with the Republic of Ireland will want to forget in a major hurry, but Morrison's exquisite 82nd-minute finish suggested he can do no wrong for his country.

With six changes from the draw against Israel, the Republic struggled to raise their game for long spells. An early Damien Duff effort and a disputed penalty were the only other highlights.

Early on China barely ventured outside their own half, but then Paddy Kenny was forced into a low save down by his right-hand post from a Zhano Junzhe drive. Sun Xiang came close to embarrassing Ireland again when his shot shaved Kenny's left-hand post. Then, after an extremely rare friendly appearance by Roy Keane, Morrison raced on to Alan Maybury's pass and lofted a curling shot over the advancing Li Leilei.

Just under three minutes from time, Graham Kavanagh almost added a second, but his straight drive was turned over the bar.

There was almost late drama again for Ireland, but Kenny managed to hold on to a curling free-kick from Wang Liang that flew through the area.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Kenny (Sheff Utd), Maybury (Hearts), Cunningham (Birmingham), Dunne (Man City), O'Shea (Man Utd), Reid (Tottenham), Kavanagh (Wigan), Kilbane (Everton), Duff (Chelsea), Robbie Keane (Tottenham), Elliott (Sunderland). Substitutes: Carr (Tottenham), O'Brien, (Newcastle), Finnan (Liverpool), Miller (Man Utd), Murphy, (Walsall), Roy Keane (Man Utd), McGeady (Celtic), Morrison (Birmingham), Doherty (Norwich).

CHINA: Leilei Li, Wei, Yonghai Zhang, Weifeng Li, Hu, Chen, Zhao, Shao, Yi Li, Ji, Sun. Substitutes: Jian Li, Du, Yaokun Zhang, Zou, Yan Li, Shi, Wang, Zheng, Huang, Cao.

Referee: A Casha (Malta).

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