Republic of Ireland 4-0 Qatar
Callum Robinson proved the hat-trick hero as Ireland strolled past Qatar in tonight’s international friendly at the Aviva Stadium.
Two goals inside the opening 13 minutes, handed Ireland control of the game, and two more were added early in the second half as Robinson completed his hat-trick, before Shane Duffy headed home the fourth.
The victory sees Ireland maintain their recent good form as they end the October window with two wins, two clean sheets and seven goals scored, ahead of next month’s double-header with Portugal and Luxembourg.
Decked out in blue commemorative jerseys, Ireland started brightly, looking to carry on from the impressive win in Azerbaijan on Saturday.
The first goal in Baku came very early in the game, the second from a deflected shot, both by Robinson, and the striker blended the two to open the scoring.
With less than four minutes on the clock, the ball was worked down the left from a throw in, and Robinson linked well with first Jamie McGrath and then Conor Hourihane before smashing an effort goalwards.
The well-hit shot looked to be on target, yet it was helped into the net via the outstretched leg of Bassam Al-Rawi, leaving keeper Meshaal Barsham with no chance as the ball flew into the top left corner.
Ireland then kept the pressure on, showing a much better reaction than when taking the lead in Baku, with Qatar barely able to get out of their own half.
And Kenny’s side could have made it two in the 11th minute as Hourihane teased a great ball across the face for Chiedozie Ogbene to attack.
The ball just had too much pace for the right-sided forward, but the build-up was excellent, with a range of players contributing.
The second goal was imminent, however, as a penalty was awarded a minute later when Karim Boudiaf fouled Jamie McGrath – Ireland’s first penalty since Euro 2016, when Robbie Brady scored against France.
No penalties in five years is always going to leave a gap for a designated taker and Robinson took responsibility, making no mistake sending the ball low to the keeper’s right and into the corner of the net.
Qatar finally went on the attack in the 15th minute as Akram Atif burst forward but there was no support and Ireland dealt with the danger, eventually.
Caoimhin Kelleher had been a spectator for the opening 15 minutes, and was then cajoled into a spot of keep-ball at the back; perhaps not the most desirable engagement on your first international start, and the keeper soon put his foot through it.
Qatar’s first shot at goal came in the 20th minute as captain Hassan Al-Haydos tried his luck from distance, however, the resulting effort was dragged well wide.
The tempo dropped midway through the half as Ireland enjoyed possession and played the game at their own pace.
The aerial route to goal was explored as John Egan had an offside header fly wide, while a corner kick in the 35th minute saw three Irish players attack the near post, yet the contact took the ball wide.
Ogbene was then the width of the crossbar from replicating the scoreline and the scorers from the 3-0 in Azerbaijan as he connected with a dipping cross from Robinson, cutting in from the left.
The Rotherham forward guided his header goalwards but could only look on as the ball rebounded back off the woodwork to deny him his second goal in consecutive games.
The visitors best bit of play came two minutes before the break as they worked the ball down the left and across the edge of the box, where Al-Haydos was in prime position to smack a shot on target, yet just as he pulled the trigger, McGrath came scampering back and got a vital clearance to see off the danger.
Andrew Omobamidele then had to make an equally important challenge in the box on the stroke of half-time after Abdulaziz Hatem did well to make space in the box, and Ireland, once again, took a two-goal cushion into the second half.
It took eight minutes of the second half for Ireland to score their third and Robinson to bag his hat-trick – the first for the country since Robbie Keane’s treble against Gibraltar in 2014.
Another patient build-up as Ireland kept ball inside the Qatar half before Duffy stepped forward to act as the perfect catalyst, as Jeff Hendrick then followed suit and spotted a fine lateral run of Robinson on the edge of the box.
Hendrick rolled the ball perfectly into his path, and Robinson did the rest with a first-time effort beneath the advancing keeper.
Qatar tried to make it interesting, but they had no cutting edge whenever they did move into the final third of the pitch.
And it was Ireland who kept looking forward, and bagged their fourth in the 59th minute, from a corner.
This time Duffy was all alone as the ball flew into the Derry man’s air space, and he made no mistake dispatching Hourihane’s corner low to the keeper’s left.
Ireland were turning on the style now with substitute Cyrus Christie bombing up the right flank at every opportunity, while the fans responded with a lively rendition of “stand up for the boys in green”.
Jason Knight, Troy Parrott and Nathan Collins were introduced as Kenny’s side move down through the gears.
Hendrick almost bagged the goal that his performance deserved as he let a left-footed effort fly, but it just zipped by the wrong side of the post.
But Kenny’s side would settle for four and head back to their clubs full of confidence for the visit of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in four weeks’ time.
Republic of Ireland: Caoimhin Kelleher; Shane Duffy (Nathan Collins 77), John Egan, Andrew Omobamidele; Matt Doherty (Cyrus Christie HT), Enda Stevens, Jeff Hendrick; Conor Hourihane (Harry Arter 88); Jamie McGrath (James Collins 88), Chiedozie Ogbene (Jason Knight 69), Callum Robinson (Troy Parrott 77)
Qatar: 22 Meshaal Barsham; 3 Abdelkarim Hassan, 5 Tarek Salman, 15 Bassam Al-Rawi; 2 Pedro Miguel Ró-Ró, 12 Karim Boudiaf, 10 Hassan Al-Haydos (capt), 6 Abdulaziz Hatem (Assim Madibo 73), 14 Homam Elamin Ahmed; 11 Akram Atif, 19 Almoez Ali (Ahmed Alaaeldin 73)
Referee: Keith Kennedy (NIR)