Red-hot Robbie rallies Republic

Robbie Keane moved onto a record 51 international goals as his brace earned the Republic of Ireland a 2-0 win over Macedonia on Saturday.

Last Updated: 04/06/11 at 22:36 Post Comment

Keane: Bagged a brilliant brace for Republic

Keane: Bagged a brilliant brace for Republic

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Keane, the only survivor of a costly 1-1 qualifier draw in Skopje almost 12 years ago, became the first British or Irish player to complete a half-century of international goals when he went past England's Sir Bobby Charlton with an eighth-minute opener in Saturday's Euro 2012 Group B qualifier.

He doubled his tally for the evening after 37 minutes with a neat finish, and although there was a major scare for the Irish when Ivan Trickovski smashed a penalty against the crossbar three minutes later, Keane's contribution proved decisive.

Victory at the Philip II Stadium was imperative after earlier wins for Russia and Armenia, and the trio remain locked together at the top of Group B with 13 points each from six games.

Giovanni Trapattoni's side host the Slovakians at the Aviva Stadium in September and then head for Russia in matches which will have a major say in the destiny of the group.

Saturday night's win was all the more creditable as it was achieved without stalwarts Richard Dunne and Damien Duff, and with Keane nursing a groin injury which at one point left a question mark hanging over his participation.

Skopje had not been a happy hunting ground for Ireland in the past, with a 3-2 defeat in 1997 and the 1-1 draw in 1999 severely denting their qualification hopes for the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 respectively.

However, their luck changed markedly inside a dramatic opening 45 minutes as Macedonia's hopes of inflicting further misery on the men in green were comprehensively undone, and largely by their own failings.

Keane needed just eight minutes to complete a famous half-century when, after accepting Keith Andrews' pass, he was afforded both time and space to work his way into a shooting position.

His well-struck drive might have troubled goalkeeper Martin Bogatinov anyway, but the flick it took off defender Nikolce Noveski left the shot-stopper with no chance as the ball flew into the net to cue delirious celebrations on and off the pitch.

But Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given, who had earlier been targeted with a laser pen from the crowd, had to pull off a fine save from Goran Pandev at point-blank range with 13 minutes gone, and he was back on his feet in time to deal with Goran Popov's follow-up when it arrived at pace.

Simon Cox thought he had increased Ireland's lead two minutes later, only to have his strike harshly ruled out for offside and be booked for playing on after the whistle amid a cauldron of noise into the bargain.

The Republic's luck held when a stumbling John O'Shea brought Pandev down inside the box with the striker looking to have got beyond him, and German referee Florian Meyer waved play on.

There was an anxious, moment for Trapattoni when central defender Darren O'Dea landed awkwardly as he, Given and substitute Ferhan Hasani challenged for a high ball, but O'Dea's pain was eased markedly eight minutes before the break.

Central defender Boban Grncharov completely miskicked as he attempted to turn Noveski's pass back to his goalkeeper, and the ever-aware Keane raced in to slide a shot into the bottom corner.

The Macedonians were handed a golden opportunity to drag themselves back into the game when Meyer awarded a penalty for O'Shea's crude challenge on Pandev, but Trickovski let Ireland off the hook.

The atmosphere inside the stadium had changed markedly, and the chants of the small band of travelling fans were clearly audible, with their Macedonian counterparts having earlier voiced their displeasure at the break.

The home crowd's mood was not improved 11 minutes into the second half when Pandev's close-range strike was chalked off for handball as he controlled Popov's deep cross at the far post before stabbing a shot past Given.

The Ireland goalkeeper had to be at his best to turn away substitute Mario Durovski's curling 68th-minute effort as it arced towards his top corner, with the home side making a final desperate push.

But for all their possession, they were unable to unduly trouble Given who was well protected by the men in front of him to see the Republic across the finishing line with the minimum of fuss.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

More Match Results

Tuesday, 31 March 2015
19:45
Israel 0-1 Belgium  
Sunday, 29 March 2015
Hungary 0-0 Greece  
Portugal 2-1 Serbia  
Rep Ire 1-1 Poland Report
17:00
Albania 2-1 Armenia  
Georgia 0-2 Germany  
N Ireland 2-1 Finland Report
Romania 1-0 Faroe Isl  
Scotland 6-1 Gibraltar Report
Saturday, 28 March 2015
19:45
Andorra 0-3 Bos&Herz  

Footer 365

Alan Pardew not sure Crystal Palace can match fine season in 2015-16

Alan Pardew says it is going to be difficult to repeat Crystal Palace's sensational second half of the season when the 2015-16 campaign starts.

Tim Sherwood expects Christian Benteke to remain Aston Villa player

Tim Sherwood is convinced Christian Benteke wants to stay at Aston Villa, although he has not broached the subject with him.

Steve Bruce at a loss to explain Hull City's dreadful season

Hull City boss Steve Bruce had no idea his side would be in a relegation fight after building what he saw as a strong squad last summer.

Mail Box

Only One Real Manager Of The Year

Winning the Premier League with the best squad in the Premier League is only par; Ronald Koeman did a whole lot better. Plus, the last word on Raheem and...

Don't Slate Sterling For Ambition...

Raheem Sterling deserves credit for his desire to quit Liverpool, according to one mailboxer. Also: why football should not be compared to business and Degsy's latest spot of bother...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company