Record man Keane seals vital win
Robbie Keane plundered the 50th and 51st goals of his senior international career to fire Ireland to a 2-0 victory in Macedonia.
Keane's eighth and 37th-minute strikes took him past Sir Bobby Charlton in the all-time list and proved enough to secure three precious Euro 2012 qualification points.
The victory did not come easily, however, and goalkeeper Shay Given was relieved to see Ivan Trickovski thump a 40th-minute penalty against the crossbar after John O'Shea had been penalised for a foul on Goran Pandev.
Keane needed just eight minutes to complete a famous half-century when his well-struck drive deflected off defender Nikolce Noveski left goalkeeper Martin Bogatinov with no chance.
But Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given 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.
Ireland's luck held when a stumbling 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.
Eight minutes before half-time Macedonia 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 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.
Given had to be at his best to turn away substitute Mario Durovski's curling 68th-minute effort as it arced towards his top corner, before Ireland survived a desperate push from the hosts.