IN THE second training match of their week in the Algarve, the Republic of Ireland beat amateur side Lagos 3-1 at the town's Municipal Stadium last night, producing a display that was, compared to Sunday's against Portimonense, marginally more to the liking of Giovanni Trapattoni.
Wolves defender Kevin Foley, Ipswich Town midfielder Owen Garvan and Carlisle goalkeeper Kieran Westwood were the only players unused by Trapattoni in Sunday's game but all three got a run-out last night, as did Stephen McPhail, a late arrival after playing in Saturday's FA Cup final for Cardiff City.
Against Portimonense Ireland's formation was an orthodox 4-4-2, although Trapattoni insisted that that was far from his plan, that he was demanding enough movement and flexibility from his front and wide players to make the system more fluid. For much of last night's game, against a side from the Algarve district league, the formation was 4-2-4, the locals struggling to get out of their half.
Twelve minutes into the game a Glenn Whelan volley was deflected past his own goalkeeper by Uriel. It took another 20 minutes for that lead to be extended, Darren Potter chipping the goalkeeper from 25 yards.
That, though, was the end of the first-half scoring - two Lagos players using the break to have their photo taken with Trapattoni - but poor defending seven minutes in to the second half led to the home side scoring. Hunt failed to cut out a cross and Murphy's punched clearance rebounded off Vitinha into the back of his net. Keogh restored the two-goal advantage on 55 minutes when he turned home Duff's cutback on the right.
Afterwards Trapattoni focused on the positives, insisting much of what he was looking for from his midfield and attack - "less dribbling, quicker passing, more movement" - was delivered.
"I saw some positives tonight, I discovered some qualities that I didn't know some of the players had, like Kevin Foley and Alex Bruce - he was very sure of himself, very good," he said.
"And I had some reassurance about other players like Damien Duff, Kevin Doyle and Andy Keogh: they put in to practice what I asked them to do, with a lot of tactical intelligence."
The first of many victories? "We believe," he smiled, clenching his fist. "Four years ago, Greece, Greece, Greece!"
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND:J Murphy (Scunthorpe, Westwood, Carlisle United, 62 mins); Kelly (Birmingham, Foley, Wolves, 58 mins), McShane (Sunderland), Bruce (Ipswich), Delaney (QPR, Miller, Sunderland, 70 mins); Duff (capt, Newcastle, Scannell, Crystal Palace, 62 mins), Potter (Wolves, Garvan, Ipswich, half-time), Whelan (Stoke, Rowlands, QPR, 72 mins), Hunt (Reading, McPhail, Cardiff, 55 mins); Keogh (Wolves, D Murphy, Sunderland, 67 mins), Doyle (Reading. Long, Reading, 60 mins).