Ireland cruise past Gibraltar

Ireland rock solid as Gibraltar beaten all ends up by Martin O’Neill’s side

 

Republic of Ireland 7 Gibraltar 0

Ireland secured their biggest win in almost 31 years this evening with Robbie Keane scoring his third international hat-trick and taking his tally of goals for his country to 65. James McClean got two and Wes Hoolahan one while the scoring was completed by a slightly bizarre own goal by the visiting goalkeeper.

The Irish completely overran Gibraltar, who lived up their reputation for trying to play football and will go home disappointed that they didn’t grab a consolation effort themselves, but Allen Bula’s side again paid the price for their obvious limitations at the back where defenders, almost all of whom are part-timers, looked well out of their depth against professionals who could sense there were records up for grabs.

The home side got off to a flying start with Robbie Keane opening the scoring in the sixth minute and really they never looked back with the captain completing his hat-trick by the 18th and a variety of other players looking by that stage as if they were going to get in on the act.

McClean and Aiden McGeady caused the visitors problems out wide from the outset but Wes Hoolahan was the game’s other standout performer over the course of the hour or so he was involved. The Dubliner provided the key pass in the build up to the opener and a fine assist for the second which came pretty much directly from a Gibraltar kick-out.

Their goalkeeper, Jordan Perez, made a couple of saves to be proud of, the best of them a one handed touch to a McGeady shot that was heading to the top right corner, and the 27-year-old may feel slightly aggrieved at the penalty decision that handed Keane the opportunity to complete his hat-trick for he at least got the ball even the Cypriot referee reckoned he had taken Hoolahan’s legs from under him first.

There were some predictable howlers too, though, like his parried save of a Keane shot in the second half that almost perfectly teed up McClean for the game’s sixth goal, and one utterly unpredictable one, after Hendick capitalised on a mistake by Aaron Perez in midfield and set up Keane for what should have been his fourth.

The goalkeeper initially saved well enough from the striker even if it looked as though Hoolahan was going to get to fire home the loose ball but when his follow up shot was stopped in the line by Scott Wiseman, the attempted clearance clattered off the unfortunate Perez and in off the underside of the crossbar.

Throw in McClean’s first, which came within 35 seconds of the second half getting under way, courtesy of a Keane pass, and Ireland’s seventh, a Hoolahan strike after Roy Chipolina had pretty much waved him through and Ireland were just one short of their record margin of victory - an 8-0 win over Malta back in November 1983 - with 34 minutes to play. They’d have equalled it by then, of course, had John O’Shea not had one disallowed for offside after he had flicked on a Darron Gibson free.

McGeady went close to getting the eighth afterwards, though, with a neat piece of running and shot that flew just wide of the left post after which Martin O’Neill made changes, bringing on Daryl Murphy and Kevin Doyle for Keane and Hoolahan.

The Crystal Palace striker almost scored with his first touch, a glancing header from a corner that wasn’t too far the wrong side of the right hand post. After that the home side lost their way a little and Gibraltar, having seen one close range header by Joseph Chipolina stopped by the forehead of David Forde, who didn’t know too much about the save, then really should have scored. But Brian Perez failed to make contact with Liam Walker’s corner at the near post when any sort of touch would surely have turned the ball home.

Republic of Ireland: Forde (Millwall); Meyler (Hull City), Wilson (Stoke City), O’Shea (Sunderland), Ward (Burnley); Gibson (Everton), Hendrick (Hull City); McGeady (Everton), Hoolahan (Norwich City), McClean (Wigan Athletic); Keane (LA Galaxy). Subs: Doyle (Crystal Palace) for Hoolahan and Murphy (Ipswich Town) for Keane (63 mins), Brady (Hull City) for Ward (70 mins).

Gibraltar: J Perez (Lincoln Red Imps); R Casciaro (Lincoln Red Imps), R Chipolina (Lincoln Red Imps), Wiseman (Preston North End), J Chipolina (Lincoln Red Imps); Payas (Manchester 62); B Perez (Lincoln Red Imps), Walker (Lincoln Red Imps), Bado (Lynx), Gosling (Bristol Rovers); L Casciaro (Lincoln Red Imps). Subs: Guilling (Lincoln Red Imps) for Bado (half-time), Santos (Manchester 62) for R Chipolina (58 mins), Robba (College Europa) for J Perez (60 mins).

Referee: L Trattou (Cyprus).

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