Belfast Telegraph

Emotional Robbie Keane signs off with goal in Republic rout

Rep of Ireland 4-0 Oman

By Robert Jones

Robbie Keane said he felt "emotional" after departing international football with a 68th goal for his country as the Republic of Ireland warmed up for their opening World Cup qualifier with a 4-0 win over Oman in Dublin.

The 36-year Republic captain, winning his 146th cap, struck on the half-hour on a night when he played for 57 minutes before leaving the pitch to a standing ovation.

Robbie Brady had set the ball rolling with an eighth-minute free-kick and after Keane had made his contribution, Jonathan Walters claimed a double either side of half-time to ease the Republic to victory.

"It was very tough - it was an emotional night for me," said Keane.

"I just want to thank everyone who came along to support me and tell them that I've enjoyed every minute of my 18 years with the team.

"Everyone wanted me to score and I'm delighted to finish off in this way.

"I look forward to now sitting back and watching the team as a fan."

Keane's goal tally leaves him joint fourth with Gerd Muller as Europe's best marksman in international football and behind Ferenc Puskas, Sandor Kocsis and Miroslav Klose.

Jeff Hendrick might have celebrated his big-money - £10.5m - move from Derby to Burnley in style when Derry-born James McClean's foraging set him up with 13 minutes remaining.

Al Rushaidi was less than convincing in dealing with the midfielder's well-struck shot, but he managed to get it up and over the bar to spare his side further punishment.

McClean might have added his name to the scoresheet with nine minutes remaining when he created space for himself on the left side of the box, but he dragged his effort wide of the far post.

Wes Hoolahan also went close with a deflected 87th-minute effort, with the traffic decidedly one way in the dying minutes.

Despite being a friendly against a limited Oman side ranked 107th in world, it was an energetic and flowing display for boss, Ulsterman Martin O'Neill, to ponder.

Serbia will far offer tougher opposition on Monday in the Group D opener but Walters stood out in a central striker role, hitting the woodwork to go along with his two goals.

Marc Wilson and Harry Arter missed out on the Euro 2016 finals and they put in solid displays while Hoolihan was creative as Keane's replacement.

Callum O'Dowda shone as a second-half substitute, his power and pace evident as he won just his second cap.

But this was a night that belonged to Robbie Keane, when his contribution to the Republic of Ireland cause was recognised by the fans.

Belfast Telegraph


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