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Lawrence goal gives Ireland narrow victory

  • Story Highlights
  • Republic of Ireland defeat South Africa 1-0 in a friendly international in Limerick
  • Liam Lawrence scores the only goal of the game with superb first-half free-kick
  • South Africa impress during the first half without finding the vital cutting edge
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(CNN) -- Stoke City midfielder Liam Lawrence's scored his first senior international goal to give the Republic of Ireland a 1-0 friendly victory over World Cup hosts South Africa in Limerick.

Liam Lawrence celebrates his goal as Ireland claimed a narrow win over South Africa.

Liam Lawrence celebrates his goal as Ireland claimed a narrow win over South Africa.

A Republic of Ireland side, featuring only three of the players who started Saturday's World Cup qualifier in Cyprus, saw off the challenge of Joel Santana's side courtesy of Lawrence's unstoppable 37th-minute free-kick.

However, the 27-year-old's strike, in just his second appearance for his country, came distinctly against the run of play, as South Africa dominated the first half with an impressive display which lacked only a cutting edge.

For long periods during the opening 45 minutes, the hosts found themselves on the back foot as the excellent Steven Pienaar prompted the likes of Elrio van Heerden and strikers Katlego Mphela and Bernard Parker.

It was they who created most of the chances before the break, although goalkeeper Keiren Westwood was never under the kind of pressure he perhaps should have been.

Defender Morgan Gould skied a first-minute effort high over the bar, as did Mphela 10 minutes later, while midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi saw another effort deflected wide by Stephen Kelly after he surged towards the Irish goal.

Pienaar curled a 22nd-minute free-kick just over Westwood's bar, and the Everton man threatened to play Mphela in on several occasions -- with central defenders Paul McShane and Sean St Ledger repeatedly at full stretch.

However, Lawrence's arching free-kick separated the sides and Ireland were a much better proposition after the interval.

Darron Gibson's 25-yard drive sailed just wide of the far post and substitute Leon Best and Lawrence again both went close to doubling Ireland's lead.

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