Ireland 2 - Australia 1

Two late goals from John O'Shea and Clinton Morrison stretched Ireland's unbeaten record under Brian Kerr to seven games with a narrow 2-1 victory over Australia before 37,200 happy fans at Lansdowne Road on Tuesday night.

That set up the perfect platform for the vital European Championship qualifying games against Russia and Switzerland in September in October. The Socceroos looked on course to repeat their shock 3-1 victory over England at Upton Park in February when Marc Viduka gave them a shock lead on 49 minutes.

But Ireland had other ideas with O'Shea on target with a glancing header on 74 minutes for his first goal for his country and then substitute Morrison grabbing the winner six minutes later.

Australia had a major set-back just hours before kick-off time when new Liverpool signing Harry Kewell was forced to withdraw because of an Achilles tendon problem. The gifted striker flew back to Anfield an hour before kick-off time for treatment in the hope that he would be available for Sunday's Premiership game away to Aston Villa.

Ireland had two early let-offs when Parma midfielder Marco Bresciano unleashed a tremendous 22 yard effort on 13 minutes, which struck the crossbar with keeper Nicky Colgan beaten. From the resulting rebound Basel's Scott Chipperfield headed over the bar.

And a minute later Manchester City's Danny Tiatto had an effort blocked by Colgan after Bresciano had opened up the Irish defence. The keeper was able to collect the ball when a fortunate rebound from Breen was straight into his hands.

The first real moment of danger to the Australian goal came on 20 minutes when a free kick by Steve Finnan on the left after a foul on Damien Duff was headed just over by striker Gary Doherty.

But it was Australia who really should have broken the deadlock when a long clearance by Middlebrough 'keeper Mark Schwarzer completely outwitted the Irish defence allowing Bresciano a clear-cut opening. But with only Colgan to beat, the Parma shot wide of the target.

Despite the hustle and bustle of Robbie Keane and Doherty up front and some good runs down the right by Stephen Carr, Ireland failed to get to grips in midfield with new Sunderland signing Colin Healy taking over from injured Charlton man Matt Holland midway through the first half after he suffered an ankle ligament injury.

Then three minutes before the interval Birmingham's Stan Lazaridis brought the best out of Colgan with a stinging shot from 20 yards grabbed by the 'keeper after the industrious Brett Emerton had created the opening.

Seconds before the interval Keane was denied an almost certain goal when Schwarzer somehow blocked his close range effort after good approach work between Carr and Mark Kinsella. Fortunately for Australia, Portsmouth's Hayden Foxe was back to complete the clearance.

Sadly Keane was injured in that scoring attempt when he seemed to go over on his ankle and had to be stretchered off the pitch to a sympathic ovation from the Lansdowne Road crowd. West Ham's David Connolly was then introduced as a substitute.

Newcastle United's Andy O'Brien was introduced as a third Irish substitute at half-time when winning his seventh cap as a replacement for Breen. And it wasn't the happiest of starts for the central defender when he failed to cut out a cross from the left by Lazaridis on 49 minutes.

Leeds United striker Viduka had room to chest the ball down and rifle a shot into the roof of the net from close range to spark off celebrations among the sizeable contingent of Aussie fans.

Manchester United's O'Shea had one header over the bar after a Steve Finnan free. Then Duff had a tremendous effort from the edge of the box pushed round the post by Schwarzer after good approach work between Finnan and Connolly.

Manager Kerr then introduced further substitutes during the second half - Morrison, Ian Harte and Kevin Kilbane in a bid for an equaliser. And it was Morrison, with his first touch of the ball, who went closest when shooting just wide after Connolly had provided the opening.

But Australia were growing in confidence and only the alertness of Colgan prevented Viduka and Bresciano from stretching their lead with the 'keeper down to block both efforts in quick succession.

Then came O'Shea's moment of glory after Duff had been fouled by Emerton on the right on 74 mins. Harte's perfect free kick was headed home at the near post by the Manchester United man giving Schwarzer no chance. And the huge home support had more to celebrate six minutes later when Morrison grabbed a second Irish goal.

A clever ball over the top by Harte found the Birmingham City striker in the clear and he somehow managed to roll the ball past Schwarzer despite the despairing efforts of Tony Popovic to prevent the ball entering the net.

Written by FAI