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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Irish move on to Korea
Gary Breen's goal eased Irish nerves
Gary Breen is congratulated after the second goal
BBC Sport Online's Lyle Jackson

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Stand by Korea, the Irish are on their way!

Victory over Saudi Arabia on Tuesday put Mick McCarthy's team into the last 16 and a match most probably against Spain.

It was a wet night in Tokyo, the start of the rainy season apparently.

However, the gloomy clouds which had descended on manager McCarthy and his prior to this World Cup have lifted completely.

Yes, the outlook is bright for this Irish squad.

Victory over the Saudis was achieved in the vast Yokohama Stadium which will host the final itself.

In many respects, this game was Ireland's final, the real defining moment of the tournament.

Robbie Keane's goal gave Ireland the perfect start
Robbie Keane after his opening goal

Would those precious equalisers against Cameroon and Germany be capitalised upon, or wasted?

For the first time in Japan, Ireland had the favourites' tag and all the customary warnings applied.

Their opponents may be out, but they should not be taken lightly.

And Ireland might have to be patient as the Saudis battled for the World Cup pride.

But as things transpired, the Republic and their loyal army of fans did not have to wait that long.

Within seven minutes of the start, Robbie Keane, the injury-time hero against Germany, had struck again.

His volley, though not perfectly-struck, was enough to make him the first Republic player to score two goals in the World Cup finals.

But the job was only half done.

Now this Ireland team's task was to score twice in a World Cup finals game for the first time.

Instead of continuing the force the pace, they became sloppy and for the rest of the half Saudi Arabia were outshooting them.

But they were much brighter in the second half, as has become the norm in this competition.

Things had already swung further in their favour with Cameroon going behind in the other Group E match.

But then Gary Breen ghosted in with his sixth international goal to give Ireland the two-goal margin they needed to be absolutely sure of going through.

Open Quote
The bars of Seoul have been warned
Close Quote

Breen's club future might be uncertain, but internationally no player has been picked more times by McCarthy.

The Irish manager's faith was handsomely rewarded.

Damien Duff's late goal made certain for Ireland.

We did not have to wait for the final whistle, another massive Irish party had already begun.

Now it is on to Korea for Ireland, and those of their fans who can find the money and means to get there.

The bars of Seoul have been warned.


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 ON THIS STORY
Ireland's Jason McAteer
"The games are getting bigger and bigger"
Ireland's Niall Quinn
"I'm delighted for Mick McCarthy"
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SAUDI ARABIA V REP OF IRELAND
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GROUP E
  P GD PTS
GERMANY 3 +10 7
IRELAND 3 +3 5
CAMEROON 3 -1 4
SAUDI ARABIA 3 -12 0




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