Rep of Ireland 0 England 3: Early Noble strikes maintain England's winning run

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Mark Noble scored twice on his return from suspension to set up a fourth consecutive win for Stuart Pearce's young England side last night.

The West Ham United midfielder missed last Friday's victory over Montenegro, in which Stuart Pearce's side recorded their third win in qualification for the finals in Sweden but, restored to the side in Cork last night, made a decisive impact, scoring the visitors' first two goals inside the opening 17 minutes.

The tightly packed crowd made for a lively atmosphere but they were silenced in the 10th minute when Noble opened the scoring, lobbing Darren Randolph after the goalkeeper had fumbled Andrew Taylor's cross from the left.

Noble doubled the lead in the 17th minute, providing a crisper finish after Gabriel Agbonlahor had cut in from the left and pulled the ball back.

The hosts had a claim for a penalty when James Milner tripped Billy Clarke, but the referee awarded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, from which Anthony Stokes' effort was deflected wide.

But it was soon 3-0 when Milner met full-back Taylor's cross with a first-time shot on the turn, which took a deflection off Darren O'Dea to wrong-foot Randolph.

Ireland had their chances: Joe Hart was forced to save three times from Adam Rooney, and Clarke drove across the face of England's goal.

However, Matt Derbyshire almost added a fourth early in the second half when he looped a header towards goal but Randolph saved from just under his crossbar.

Noble, in search of a hat-trick, had an effort from the edge of the area saved and went even closer when his shot deflected over by Stephen O'Halloran's brave block.

Republic of Ireland (4-4-2): Randolph; Nolan, Keogh, O'Dea, O'Halloran; O'Brien, Garvan, Quinn, Stokes; Rooney, Clarke. Substitutes: Quigley, Gleeson, Powell, McFaul, Collins, Cregg, Spillane.

England (4-4-2): Hart; Cranie, Steven Taylor, Onuoha, A Taylor; Milner, Huddlestone, Noble, Derbyshire; Walcott, Agbonlahor. Substitutes: Alnwick, Wheater, Jones, Johnson, Muamba, Jerome, Moore.

Referee: A De Marco (Italy).