World Cup - Keane scores as Ireland see off Kazakhstan

Robbie Keane celebrated his 130th international appearance with a goal as Ireland cruised to a 3-1 victory over Kazakhstan in Dublin.

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World Cup - Keane scores as Ireland see off Kazakhstan
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Robbie Keane (Reuters)

The 33-year-old striker returned to the side from injury and equalised from the penalty spot shortly after Dmitriy Shomko had fired the visitors into a shock lead.

John O’Shea then popped up with his first international goal in 10 years to put the hosts in control before Shomko inadvertently turned Aiden McGeady’s cross into his own net.

Kazakhstan had only mustered one victory during their World Cup qualifying campaign against fellow minnows Faroe Islands, but they found themselves in front after only 13 minutes thanks to Shomko’s 25-yard thunderbolt.

The left winger let rip from the edge of the area after Ireland failed to clear their lines and his strike swerved wickedly before bending into David Forde’s far post.

But Ireland were level just four minutes later when defender Alexsandr Kislitsyn inexplicably handled the ball under pressure from Kevin Doyle.

Robbie Keane stepped up and gleefully dispatched his spot-kick to chalk up his 61st international goal.  

The equaliser settled Ireland into a comforting rhythm and soon Andy Reid was dictating proceedings with his array of inviting deliveries from the wing.

The Nottingham Forest playmaker was wearing an Ireland shirt for the first time in six years and it was his corner that provided Ireland with their breakthrough.

Richard Dunne rose highest at the back post and his header was spilled by goalkeeper Andrey Sidelnikov to allow O’Shea to poke home.

Everton midfielder Darron Gibson was stretched off on 35 minutes with suspected knee ligament damage as the first half fizzled out to a muted conclusion.

After the break Ireland continued to press but it needed the introduction of McGeady to seal all three points.

The fleet-footed winger drove in from the left and slipped an inviting ball across goal, which Shomko managed to steer clear of the advancing Keane but not the back of the net.

Kazakhstan rarely threatened in reply but substitute Igor Jurin nearly lashed in a long-range effort with his first touch of his game.

Andy Reid could have capped a triumphant return with a goal but his audacious chip landed on the roof of the net and Glenn Whelan flashed a sweetly-struck volley just wide.

The result signals the end of Noel King’s temporary time in charge and The Green Army’s run of five games without a win.

[GROUP C: Final standings]

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