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Wednesday, September 1, 1999 Published at 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK

Sport: Football

Glorious win costs Irish Keane

Yugoslav midfielder Pedrag Mijatovic keeps clear of Mark Kinsella

Republic of Ireland 2-1 Yugoslavia

Two stunning second-half goals from Robbie Keane and Mark Kennedy clinched an excellent Euro 2000 victory for the Republic of Ireland at Lansdowne Road.

The BBC's Ian Brown: "The visitors faded badly"
The result takes the Irish to the top of Group Eight - a point ahead of Croatia and two clear of Yugoslavia - and gives Mick McCarthy's team a great chance of qualifying for the finals in Belgium and the Netherlands next year.

But it was an expensive win, with captain Roy Keane and his Manchester United team mate Denis Irwin both unlikely to be fit for the next two qualifiers.

Keane is out with a hamstring strain, while Irwin has suffered a recurrence of pain in a bruised Achilles tendon.

McCarthy said: "I can't see either of them being involved in the next two games for us."

Ireland play Croatia in Zagreb on Saturday and take on Malta away next week.

Wings win it

A hard-working display from the home side, capped by the crisp strikes for the goals, ensured maximum points against the group favourites, who are rated as one of Europe's most highly-rated sides.

Keane and Mark both deserved their goals for their superb performances, but the ever-industrious Niall Quinn and Kevin Kilbane were not far behind in the individual stakes.

[ image: Kevin Kilbane skips over a diving challenge from goalscorer Dejan Stankovic]
Kevin Kilbane skips over a diving challenge from goalscorer Dejan Stankovic
"They were all superb. They gave our crowd a skilful and passionate performance to be proud of, and it was a case of interaction really, because the fans gave them all the support and appreciation they needed," said the Ireland manager.

McCarthy was rewarded for his bold selection policy.

He opted for an attacking approach, with Kilbane and Kennedy chosen as out-and-out wingers and ordered to take on the Yugoslav defence.

With the little-and-large strikeforce of Keane and Quinn providing the ideal targets, the philosophy paid dividends.

After an uneventful first half the Irish went ahead in the 54th minute.

Irwin launched a huge cross from the right-back position, Quinn dummied a header and Robbie Keane ran onto the ball and slammed a first-time drive into the far corner.

Sucker punch

The goal prompted the Republic to step up the pressure - and they could have extended the lead during an manic three-minute period when Quinn had three great chances.

The Sunderland frontman sent two headers wide and then, with a moment of supreme skill, he turned on the edge of the box and unleashed a glorious chip that back-peddalling Yugoslav keeper Aleksander Kocic did well to tip over the bar.

[ image: Robbie Keane takes evasive action as Yugoslavia's Aleksander Kocic saves]
Robbie Keane takes evasive action as Yugoslavia's Aleksander Kocic saves
But, just when the score should have been 2-0, the Yugoslavs struck a shock 60th minute equaliser.

With the Irish defence absent without leavem, Dejan Stankovic finished off a slick breakaway move typical of the Yugoslavs, speeding in unmarked at the far post to power home a header.

The 20-year-old's fine effort shook the Irish from their defensive slumbers - and they set about re-establishing their advantage.

And with 20 minutes to go, the deserved winner arrived.

Kennedy collected the ball wide on the left and moved into the middle. With no attacking options readily available he looked to be going nowhere - but with his marker backing off he blasted a spectacular 25-yard shot that swerved over Kocic and went in off the bar.

There was still time for Alan Kelly to tip over a free-kick from Mihajlovic and for Tony Cascarino to come on for a record 84th Irish cap.

Thankfully for the Dublin crowd there was no way back for Yugoslavia - and they now face a fascinating match against local rivals Croatia as they bid to revive their own Euro 2000 hopes.


Rep of Ireland: A Kelly, Irwin, Cunningham, Breen, Staunton, Kennedy, Roy Keane, Kinsella, Kilbane, Robbie Keane, Quinn. Subs: Cascarino, Carsley, Babb, Connolly, G Kelly, Carr, Kiely.

Yugoslavia: Kocic, Komljenovic, Bolic, Govedarica, Djukic, Stankovic, Nadj, Mijatovic, Milosevic, Savicevic, Mihajlovic. Subs: Damjanac, Krstajic, Saveljic, Grozdic, Drulovic, Tomic, Kovacevic.

Referee: P Collina (Italy)

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