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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 30 September 2020

Keane bags first half hat-trick as Ireland put seven past hapless Gibraltar

Ireland’s captain added three more goals to his international tally in the biggest win of the Martin O’Neill era.

Robbie Keane and James McClean celebrate an Ireland goal.
Robbie Keane and James McClean celebrate an Ireland goal.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

 Ireland 7-0 Gibraltar 

IRELAND MADE LIGHT work of Group D whipping boys Gibraltar at the Aviva Stadium this evening — scoring seven unanswered goals to give them maximum points from two games.

Robbie Keane’s first half hat-trick set the Boys in Green on their way before James McClean’s brace was added to by Wes Hoolahan and an own-goal from Gibraltar goalkeeper Jordan Perez.

Martin O’Neill made five changes to the team which earned a last-gasp win away to Georgia last month. Without the injured Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy, he opted for David Meyler at right back with late call-up Brian Lenihan not even making the bench.

Darron Gibson and Jeff Hendrick were brought in as a midfield pairing while James McClean returned to the team to start on opposite flank to fellow winger Aiden McGeady.

The Ireland team huddle Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

As expected, Ireland dictated possession right from the off and opened up the visitors after five minutes when McGeady spun off his man and crossed to the back post where Hoolahan headed over.

Th3 35,123 who turned at Lansdowne Road didn’t have to wait much longer for the opening goal, however, as Hoolahan returned the favour by picking out McGeady with a delightful through-ball. The Everton winger unselfishly squared for Keane, who finished routinely from close range.

McClean had a point-blank save stopped by Perez before Ireland doubled their lead. Hoolahan was again the provider, this time controlling the ball on his chest before playing it into the path of Keane for the Ireland skipper stroke home.

And the country’s all-time record goalscorer scored the 65th of his international career with the game still just 18 minutes old. Keane saw his effort cleared off the line but when Hoolahan was brought down by a clumsy challenge from Perez, referee Leontios Trattou had little choice but to point to the spot.

Keane sent the keeper the wrong way to convert the penalty and bag his third hat-trick in a green shirt.

In a thoroughly-dominant first half, Hoolahan and McGeady came close to getting their names on the scoresheet but the Boys in Green went into the break with a three-goal advantage.

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O’Neill stuck with the same eleven for the second half and the floodgates opened with four more goals in the space of ten minutes. First, Keane teed up McClean and the Wigan man had the easiest of tasks from six yards out — although there was a suspicion of offside.

It was far to say Perez, who works professionally as a fireman, wasn’t having the best of days and his own-goal made it 5-0. He initially saved Keane’s chip but when Hoolahan’s follow-up was blocked, the Gibraltar number one blasted the ball into his own net.

McClean scored his second on 53 minutes before Hoolahan got in on the act with a clever run and low shot at the near post.

Wes Hoolahan scores their seventh goal Wes Hoolahan scores. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Gibraltar boss Allen Bula ended Perez’s misery by replacing him with back-up goalie Jamie Robba while Keane, Hoolahan and Stephen Ward were all withdrawn for Kevin Doyle, Daryl Murphy and Robbie Brady.

Ireland should have had a couple more before the end while Gibraltar eventually managed to cause the Irish backline a problem or two in the dying minutes but 7-0 was how it ended.

Confidence will be sky high after such a one-sided victory but a far tougher test awaits on Tuesday as Ireland now travel to Gelsenkirchen for a meeting with World Cup winners Germany.

Ireland: Forde, Meyler, O’Shea, Wilson, Ward (Brady 70′), McGeady, Hendrick, Gibson, McClean, Hoolahan (Murphy 63′), Keane (Doyle 63′).

Gibraltar: Perez (Robba 60′), Wiseman, J Chipolina, R Casciaro, R Chipolina (c) (Santos 57′), L Casciaro, Bado (Guilling 45′), Walker, Gosling, Perez, Payas.

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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