Keane on target as Ireland crush Oman
Robbie Keane entertained Irish football fans for the best part of two decades, and the country’s record goalscorer would not disappoint on his final appearance in the green jersey as he smashed home Ireland’s second goal in their rout of Oman.
There was a real testimonial feel to the occasion as the Ireland captain entered the arena to a standing ovation, and while the home side were perhaps a little distracted at the start, the visitors were keen to make an immediate impact against their esteemed opponents.
Little over a minute was on the clock when Abdulaziz Al Muqbali raced clear down the left flank and won a free-kick as he was chopped down by Harry Arter’s scything challenge.
The free led to a corner and the aforementioned Al Muqbali drifted off at the back post, unchallenged, and his downward header had keeper Keiren Westwood scrambling across his goal to punch clearly.
But then Ireland woke up and the one-way traffic soon commenced, leading to three-first half goals, and another hatful of chances that emphasised the one-sided nature of this friendly international.
All eyes were on Keane, but in the eighth minute, Robbie Brady was first to score, with a pin-point free-kick, whipped into the top corner with that wand-like left foot.
The Ireland players were by now attempting to set-up the captain for a departing goal, but Keane has made his career living off scraps in the penalty box and sure enough, the skipper would make his own goal in the 30th minute as he lifted the ball over the bewildered Oman defender.
The swivel and shot were textbook Keane as he rattled the net with a perfectly executed volley, which immediately warmed the cool August evening air down Lansdowne Road way.
And that would be the last time that Keane would crash the ball home for the Ireland cause, as he was substituted early in the second half, not before Jonathan Walters made it three with an arrowing, downward header in the 34th minute.
The bench was emptied in the second half as a host of Ireland regulars enjoyed a run out ahead of Monday’s World Cup qualifier against Serbia in Belgrade, but remarkably only one more goal was to follow, as Walters ran on to a wonderful Harry Arter pass to round the keeper and slide the ball home in the 63rd minute.
But the match’s most memorable moment arrived in the 57th minute as the board was hoisted and number 10 was called home for the final time.
Ireland: Westwood (Randolph); Christie, Clark, Wilson, Brady (Ward HT); Quinn (O’Dowda 67), Arter, Whelan (Hendrick HT), Walters; Long (McClean HT), Keane (Hoolahan 57).
Oman: Al Rushaidi; Al Mushaifri (Al Mukhain HT), Almukhani, Mabrook, Raboh Bait (Al Busaidi); Al Malki (Al Shuabi 75), Al Shyadi, Al Saadi, Saleh; Al Khaldi (Al Farsi), Al Muqbali (Aal Sbdulsalam 87).
Referee: Demetries Masias (Cyp)