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IN-form Callum Robinson's hat-trick earned the Republic of Ireland a dominant 4-0 friendly win over World Cup hosts Qatar in Dublin.
After a double in Saturday's World Cup qualifier victory in Azerbaijan, the West Brom man put the Republic ahead on four minutes with a deflected shot.
Robinson extended the advantage nine minutes later from the penalty spot and hit his third on 53 minutes.
Shane Duffy rounded off the home win with a trademark 59th-minute header.
The Republic's energetic first-half display put them in firm control against a Qatar side that appeared low on confidence following their poor recent run of results.
Robinson's opener seemed to inject belief into Stephen Kenny's side as the striker exchanged passes with both Jamie McGrath and Conor Hourihane before his shot from just outside the penalty area clipped defender Bassam Hisham Al-Rawi and looped over keeper Meshaal Barsham.
With Jeff Hendrick a dynamic presence in midfield, the game was effectively over when the lively Robinson converted his penalty after McGrath had been fouled.
Qatar's form has deteriorated badly since they lost their CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final 1-0 against USA in late July.
They have since suffered 4-0 thumpings against Serbia - and now the Republic - in addition to 3-1 and 3-0 defeats to Portugal, with Felix Sanchez's side also involved in an uninspiring 1-1 in Luxembourg.
And while Qatar's Fifa ranking at 43 is seven places above above the Republic, they were no match for Kenny's side at the Aviva Stadium.
In contrast, Tuesday's result completed a highly satisfactory week for Kenny as the first competitive win of his tenure - at the 13th attempt - in Baku was followed by this emphatic success.
Liverpool keeper Caoimhin Kelleher was one of five changes from the Azerbaijan contest, but he scarcely had a save to make as Qatar offered no threat.
A week ago, Robinson's revelation that he had opted not to receive a Covid-19 vaccination led to much media comment in Ireland, with manager Kenny and John Egan, who captained the team in Baku, compelled to defend the striker's freedom of choice on the issue.
However, Robinson's two first-half goals set up Saturday's 3-0 win to ease the pressure on Kenny - and he delivered again for his manager.
The Baggies frontman was showing for the ball at every opportunity and his early deflected effort came as he reacted quickest when the Republic won a throw-in on their left wing and his shot followed a slick exchange of passes with McGrath and Hourihane.
Chiedozie Ogbene almost connected with a Hourihane cross before Robinson converted his penalty after McGrath had been tripped by Karim Boudiaf.
Ogbene, the first African-born player to be capped by the Republic earlier this year, nearly got on the scoresheet on 40 minutes as he headed a Robinson cross against the bar.
It was more of the same after the break as Hendrick's defence-splitting pass set up Robinson to complete his treble.
Duffy completed the scoring by heading a Hourihane corner to the net before the inevitable series of substitutions saw the dominant hosts lose their momentum.
While the Republic's hopes of making it to Qatar were ended by a run of three opening defeats in Group A, they will hope to continue the revival when they host Portugal in their penultimate World Cup qualifier on 11 November. They will round off their campaign in Luxembourg three days later.
- Oct. 13, 2021 @ 10:31 GMT |
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