DUBLIN: World Cup-bound Algeria looked toothless in attack and shaky in defence as it suffered a tame 3-0 defeat to Ireland in a World Cup friendly here on Friday.
Veteran Robbie Keane scored a brace and Paul Green one goal against the Algerians, who are drawn in Group A of the June 11-July 11 finals in South Africa alongside England, Slovenia and the United States.
After an uneventful first half-hour, Green got the scoreboard ticking with his first goal for Ireland 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 could afford to be upset that the assistant referee failed 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 Keane, the Ireland captain, scored the second goal 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 then that Keane was 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 Rabah Saadane's woes ahead of what will undoubtedly be a most testing trip to South Africa.
The result: Ireland 3 (Green 31, Keane 51, 85-pen) bt Algeria 0. Cameroon 1 (Eyong 83) drew with Slovakia 1 (Kopunek 6) .
Maradona, Messi arrive
Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi arrived in Johannesburg on Saturday with the Argentina squad to prepare for a World Cup they are among the favourites to win.
Clear skies and cool early morning autumn conditions greeted the third team to land in South Africa after Asia powerhouse Australia and five-time champion Brazil.
After a brief session with select TV crews and photographers, coach Maradona, Barcelona superstar Messi and a mix of foreign-based and domestic stars left in a luxury coach for their Pretoria base.
Cameroon captain Samuel Eto'o on Friday questioned his participation at the World Cup finals after criticism from former compatriot Roger Milla that he had brought nothing to his country.
Milla had said that Eto'o had “brought lots to Barcelona and Inter Milan but never anything to the Cameroon team. It's also a question of discipline. Cameroon is waiting for him to react.”
Eto'o, who this month won the Champions League with Inter to add to his two European Cup winning medals with Barca in 2006 and 2009, dubbed Milla “bitter”.
“Is it worth me going to the World Cup?” he asked on the sidelines of an exhibition match in Paris.” — Agencies