Keane on target in Ireland draw

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Robbie Keane grabbed the equaliser for Republic of Ireland as they warmed up for next week's World Cup qualifier with a 1-1 draw in their friendly against Nigeria.

Ireland, who had five of their starting XI making their debuts, fell behind to Michael Enemaro's opener before Keane levelled before the interval at Craven Cottage.

It means Giovanni Trapattoni's men head to Bulgaria without breaking their momentum after going unbeaten in qualifiers so far.

Trapattoni also has options now after Kevin Foley, Sean St Ledger, Eddie Nolan, Liam Lawrence and Leon Best were among the debutants starting. Keiren Westwood then came on at the break for his first appearance as the Italian looks ahead to the trip to Sofia, where a win will mean a huge stride towards at least a play-off to reach South Africa next year.

It was Foley, however, who was at fault for Enemaro's goal on the half-hour mark. Nigeria had hardly threatened seriously, apart from a speculative 40-yard free-kick from Sone Aluko that Shay Given tipped over, but they were ahead slightly against the run of play.

Femi Olubayo, on the right, fizzed in a cross first time which Foley should have cleared but Enemaro was a fraction quicker, wrapped his foot around the ball and his finish fizzed past Given.

That sprung Ireland into action, with three debutants combining shortly after. Lawrence swung over a free-kick that St Ledger headed back into the danger area, with Best's finish striking the post.

Best's partnership with Keane was showing signs of promise, with the Coventry striker latching on to balls through and getting close before he struck the woodwork.

Best, however, did not have a part to play in Keane's leveller. It was an eye-pleasing move, starting from Liam Miller's flick around a defender to Keith Andrews.

Andrews split the Nigeria defence with his pass, then Ireland's skipper and all-time top scorer did the rest, taking the ball past goalkeeper Austin Ejide and tucking away his finish.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Robbie Keane
Keith Andrews
Sone Aluko
Kevin Foley
Leon Best
Sean St Ledger
Shay Given
Eddie Nolan
Liam Miller
Coventry City
Liam Lawrence

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