Keane earns Trapattoni plaudits

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Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni saluted skipper Robbie Keane after watching him set up a World Cup showdown with his native Italy.

Keane, who was put out of his misery at Liverpool when he secured a deadline-day return to former club Tottenham, proved once again just what he can do when given the chance to rescue a vital game for his country with a late double.

Trapattoni said: "He has not played every week, but he played here in front of 50,000 in a World Cup qualifier, and you could see he enjoyed it."

A 2-1 win at Croke Park set up Ireland perfectly for third-placed Bulgaria's visit to Dublin next month before Trapattoni and his players head for Bari and attempt to cause the Italians even more problems on April 1.

With compatriot Marcello Lippi among the crowd after his side's 2-0 friendly defeat by Brazil on Tuesday night, the 69-year-old was delighted with Keane's match-winning contribution.

He continued: "Robbie was very important. He kept running back to win the ball."

Trailing within seconds of the kick-off to Alexander Iashvili's strike, the Republic laboured as they tried to break down a well-organised Georgia outfit, who remained dangerous on the break. Ucha Lobjanidze will count himself unfortunate to have been penalised for handball with the ball appearing to hit his shoulder. However, Keane never batted an eyelid as he sent keeper Giorgi Lomaia the wrong way from the spot, and his header five minutes later secured three priceless points.

Trapattoni's side may have enjoyed a huge slice of good fortune with the penalty decision, but he was making no apologies.

He said: "Do you know how many penalties like this are given in every country? Every Sunday in every country, there are many, many situations like this.

"We deserved to win - we didn't deserve to lose. In the second half, I was pleased with our performance."

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

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Tottenham Hotspur
Robbie Keane
Premier League

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