All square in Nicosia

HALF TIME: Cyprus 1 Republic of Ireland 1

Kevin Doyle handed the Republic of Ireland the perfect start to their World Cup qualifier in Cyprus.

The Wolves frontman smashed home his seventh international goal and his first in a year with just five minutes gone to give the visitors the lead.

However, Cyprus levelled on the half hour when full-back Marios Ilia beat Shay Given with a fine low strike to peg Ireland back.

The game was being played largely in the Cyprus half with the home side struggling to get Aloneftis on the ball with anything like the regularity for which they might have hoped before kick-off.

Trapattoni’s men were looking particularly menacing from set-pieces and keeper Sofronis Avgousti was fortunate to get away with an flap at a 28th-minute Hunt corner.

However, Aloneftis made his mark once again seconds later when he sent in a low cross which Given only just claimed ahead of Okkas under pressure from Dunne.

The equaliser arrived on the half hour as Cyprus finally put the visitors’ defence to the test on a sustained basis.

Dunne did well to dispossess Okkas inside the penalty area and St Ledger blocked Avraam’s well-struck shot.

But when the ball rebounded to unmarked full-back Marios Ilia, he smashed a right-foot effort past Given and into the far corner.

The Republic responded in determined fashion and went close twice with a minute.

Midfielder Keith Andrews fired just wide from distance after being set up by Glenn Whelan with 36 minutes gone, and full-back Kevin Kilbane powered a header inches over the bar seconds later.

However, the Cypriots were very much in the game and Given was relieved to see defender Elias Charalambous head over from a tight angle five minutes before the break.

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