'If we had lost it would have been a long way back'


PLAYERS' REACTION:Delighted Wolves striker comes in from the cold to save the day for Ireland. EMMET MALONEreports

IT HAD been seven international games without a goal for both Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle prior to last night’s outing at three Astana Arena. In the end, Doyle had marginally the great impact on a game in which he only played for 32 minutes. The Wolves striker’s cross from the left was the catalyst for the penalty that was won by Keane, who then picked himself up to convert.

The Wexfordman then grabbed the goal that earned Ireland the most unlikely of wins. Not bad for a player whose original exclusion from the side had gone virtually uncommented upon.

“I saw us nicking a draw but I didn’t see us winning it when I came on,” he admitted afterwards. “They were defending for their lives and we weren’t creating too many opportunities but we won it from nowhere.

“My goal? Yeah, it was nice to score, I’m delighted with that. I couldn’t have connected with it any cleaner.

“We were saying on the bench that we’ve got Germany next so if we’d lost tonight it would have been a long way back even with only one game gone.

“But we didn’t. We won. It was get out of jail free. It’s massive in the end. We go into face Germany with a win under our belts so it turned out to be a great start to the campaign from what, with minutes to go, looked like being a disaster.

“Look, we didn’t play well; I’m not going to dress it up but they made it difficult and in the end we did still win the game.

“Someone asked me if that’s the worst performance I’ve seen by Ireland and it surely wasn’t this because we won the game. As opposed to being in Cyprus or different places where we might have just capitulated, we kept going tonight.

“I felt sorry for Kazakhstan but there have been plenty of times when it’s been the other way round so I can’t feel too sorry for them.

“They were well organised and had a couple of good players but whether we deserved it or not, we won. We’ve been on the end of games where we’ve deserved to win and haven’t. We got a bit of luck tonight which we haven’t always got before. Now hopefully we can pick up a draw and a win against Germany and the Faroe Islands.

That pace of the surface caused Darren O’Dea and his fellow defenders quite a few problems and the Dubliner suggested tiredness may have been a factor when it comes to his performance.

“I feel knackered. I’ve travelled 15 hours and I’ve not slept properly since I got here. That’s no excuse for the performance, I just mean it’s good to get it out of the way and get a win.

“We certainly didn’t play well at all,” he admitted. “That’s something we need to work on but, especially in World Cup qualifiers, it’s all about results. That’s the kind of positive we can take out of it.”

Keane readily acknowledging the team were fortunate: “We did not deserve to get the there points; there’s no question about that. We didn’t play that well but to be fair to them, they stopped us from playing; and they made it very, very difficult for us with two banks of four and two holding midfielders just sitting in front of the back four.

“I felt if we got a goal back, though, we might push on as they were just there to defend. When I got the penalty I could see in their faces they just wanted to

take the point and get the game over with. Luckily enough for us we kept plugging away and it was a great finish by Kevin Doyle.

“It was tough, but full credit to the boys, we came back and are coming out now with three points that we probably didn’t deserve.”

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