Ireland make a positive charge

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The Independent Online
Liechtenstein 0 Republic of Ireland 5

Mick McCarthy's new-look Republic of Ireland side made last year's goalless flop againstLiechtenstein appear a mere figment as they rolled over the Alpine part-timers in a runaway win on Saturday at the start of their latest World Cup adventure.

It was a cakewalk in the shadow of the Alps, where Jack Charlton's old team had failed 0-0 14 months ago.

That result ultimately cost Ireland a place in the finals of Euro 96 and led to Charlton's resignation after nearly 10 glorious years in charge. This time Ireland's new manager saw his men settle down to business straight away and the contest was in effect over inside the first 20 minutes.

The Irish captain, Andy Townsend, the 20-year-old Norwich striker Keith O'Neill, Niall Quinn and Ian Harte - who was 19 on Saturday - had all hit the target in that time.

Quinn added his second and Ireland's fifth just after the hour and although it was surprising there were no more goals in a one-sided second half it was still a thoroughly business-like performance by the team McCarthy is rebuilding with the introduction of a crop of bright youngsters.

Unlike last summer, the carnival atmosphere of the quaint Eschen/Mauren stadium, in the centre of a public park, was fully enjoyed by the travelling Irish fans - more than 1,000 of them invading the tiny capital of Vaduz, including a streaker who ran nearly half the length of the pitch during the interval wearing only a feathered hat.

The win bettered the Republic's biggest-ever away success, a 4-0 European championship qualifier win in Belfast against Northern Ireland in 1994.

Goals: Townsend (5) 0-1; O'Neill (7) 0-2, Quinn (11) 0-3, Harte (19) 0-4, Quinn (61) 0-5.

LIECHTENSTEIN: Heeb (Vaduz); Hefti (Vaduz), Stocklasa (Eschen/ Mauren), Hilti (Schaan), Hasler (Vaduz), Hanselmann (Balzers), Quaderer (Vaduz), Zech (Vaduz), H Schadler (Triesenberg), Frick (Basle), F Schadler (Triesenberg). Substitutes: Klaunzer (Eschen/Mauren) for H Schadler, 78; Telser (Balzers) for Hanselmann, 82.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Given (Blackburn); Irwin (Manchester Utd), Harte (Leeds), Kenna (Blackburn), Breen (Birmingham), Staunton (Aston Villa), Townsend (Aston Villa), Houghton (Crystal Palace), Quinn (Sunderland), McLoughlin (Portsmouth), O'Neill (Norwich). Substitutes: Moore (Middlesbrough) for O'Neill, 72; Cascarino (Marseille) for Townsend, 83.

Booked: Liechtenstein: Stocklasa.

Referee: S Shmolik (Belarus).

Attendance: 3,900.