Finnan's World

Wednesday 5 June 2002

Fulham superstar Steve Finnan made his full World Cup finals debut as Ireland snatched a late 1-1 draw against Germany thanks to a Robbie Keane goal.

After featuring as a substitute in Ireland's opening Group E game against Cameroon, Finnan quickly settled into his right-back role with Gary Kelly moving into midfield to accommodate Jason McAteer's absence.

The Fulham ace played alongside Gary Breen in Mick McCarthy's back four and played a crucial role in the dramatic equaliser.

The Germans took the lead in the 19th minute, Michael Ballack's perfect cross finding Miroslav Klose, whose downward header gave Shay Given no chance.

Ireland did not panic and just minutes later Matt Holland's drive, almost a carbon copy of the Ipswich man's goal against Cameroon, flew inches wide of Kahn's right-hand post.

The Republic had much the better of the opening period of the second half, and Damien Duff was denied a goal in the 57th minute by a great save from Kahn, his close-range shot from Breen's knockdown deflected by the German goalkeeper's thigh.

All seemed lost as the minutes ran out, but Ireland again demonstrated their determination and team spirit by snatching a last-gasp goal to give them a real chance of progressing to the knock-out stages.