Euro 2012 - Ireland seal Euro 2012 spot

Tue, 15 Nov 21:35:00 2011

Republic of Ireland will contest their first major finals since the 2002 World Cup after drawing 1-1 with Estonia in Dublin to complete a 5-1 aggregate win in their Euro 2012 play-off match.

Ireland - 0

Stephen Ward rammed the ball home from close range on 31 minutes after visiting goalkeeper Pavel Londak failed to hold Kevin Doyle's header to delight a bouncing 51,150 crowd at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland failed to find the required gusto in the second period and were punished when Estonia equalised on 57 minutes.

Aston Villa's Shay Given seemed to go down in instalments as Konstantin Vassiljev's shot somehow evaded him from 30 yards to prompt wild celebrations among the hardy band of travelling supporters.

It was not enough to stop the party mood in the Irish capital as the home fans celebrated qualifying for a major tournament on Irish soil for the first time.

It was the first time a limited Estonia side had scored a goal against Ireland in four meetings, but was much too little, too late.

Ireland already had one foot in next summer's finals in Poland and Ukraine after drubbing Estonia 4-0 in Friday's first leg in Tallinn.

Ireland last qualified for a European Championship finals in 1988. They last appeared in a finals at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

The win will secure the future of manager Giovanni Trapattoni, whose contract is likely to be renewed before the Italian coach names his 23-man squad for the finals.

The Football Association of Ireland are set to pocket an estimated 6.8 million for qualifying for the finals.

It also eases the pain of the infamous Thierry Henry handball two years ago that helped France rob the Irish of a spot at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

The game was not much to write home about, but was always unlikely to be a classic with the home side heading into the evening with that four-goal lead tucked away.

Robbie Keane could have had two goals in the opening 10 minutes. Londak denied him with a brave stop on seven minutes before the Estonia goalkeeper spilled Damien Duff's shot only to see Keane knock the rebound wide of the target.

There was little of note in the second period with Keane seeing a shot blocked after being played in by substitute Aiden McGeady on 61 minutes while Richard Dunne headed straight at Londak from Keith Andrews's floated delivery moments later.

Estonia midfielder Martin Vunk thumped a shot at the home goal on 73 minutes that Given clawed out before the game petered out amid some joyous scenes in the Irish capital.

Desmond Kane - on Twitter @DesmondKane / Eurosport

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