South Africa-bound Algeria looked toothless in attack and shaky in defence as they suffered a 3-0 defeat to Republic of Ireland in a pre FIFA World Cup™ friendly on Friday.
Veteran Robbie Keane scored a brace and Paul Green one goal against the Algerians, who are drawn in Group A of the finals in South Africa alongside England, Slovenia and the United States.
The Irish, denied a spot in South Africa after a highly-charged a play-off against France, dominated proceedings and fully deserved the win. "We've done fantastically this week: we've beaten two teams going to the World Cup," said Ireland's Liam Lawrence, referring to his team's 2-1 victory over Paraguay on Tuesday. "We've put the past behind us and are looking forward to (Euro 2012 qualifiers in) September," said the Stoke midfielder.
He added: "Algeria are a good footballing side and played well in patches, but I would expect England to beat them. But you never know in the World Cup, people raise their game."
After an uneventful first half-hour, Green got the scoreboard ticking with his first goal for his national team in just his second appearance. The Derby County player bravely went for a Lawrence free-kick that bounced between the striker and goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi, a diving header seeing the ball into the back of the goal.
Algeria are a good footballing side and played well in patches, but I would expect England to beat them. But you never know in the World Cup, people raise their game.
Algeria could afford to be upset that the assistant referee seemed to fail to spot a blatant offside from three Irish players. But the north Africans could not complain about not getting on the scoresheet, having failed to get even a single shot on target in the opening period.
They came closest when Abdelkader Ghezzal made a threatening run into the Irish box, but Sean St Ledger produced a perfect sliding tackle to deny the Sienna striker. Things got worse for Algeria when Celtic's much-travelled Keane, the Irish captain, scored his side's second six minutes into the second-half. A neat Damien Duff cross was poorly cleared by Chaouchi and Keane was on hand to swivel and dink the ball over the stranded keeper's despairing dive into the net.
Chaouchi was on hand shortly after to make a smart one-handed save from Keane, who minutes later saw a scrambled effort come off the post as Algeria struggled badly to contain the Irish long-ball tactic. The home side's midfielder Keith Andrews went close with a free-kick with nine minutes to play as both sides made a host of changes that disrupted the natural rhythm of the game.
After Adlene Guedioura saw a strong header come back off the post, the Irish broke and it was that man Keane brought down in the Algerian box under a clumsy challenge from Djamel Mesbah. The former Leeds, Liverpool and Tottenham striker stepped up and converted the penalty to stretch his Irish goal scoring record to 43 in 99 games and compound Algeria coach's Rabah Saadane planning ahead of what will undoubtedly be a most testing trip to South Africa.