Republic of Ireland 2-1 Australia
Robbie Keane suffered an ankle injury on a night of mixed emotions for the Irish that saw them come from behind for a friendly victory against Australia in Dublin.
Keane, the 23-year-old Tottenham Hotspur FC forward who excelled at last year's FIFA World Cup finals, was hurt in a goalmouth scramble just before half-time and carried off the field on a stretcher. He was not taken to hospital but is on crutches and is expected to undergo an x-ray on Wednesday to determine the extent of the injury.
"Robbie's very sore but we won't know how serious it is for a few days," Ireland coach Brian Kerr told reporters after the match. "He doesn't suffer much from injuries and usually makes a good recovery from them."
Ireland will hope Keane will be fit for next month's UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifiers against Russia and Switzerland that could go a long way to deciding Group 10. Tonight's match against Australia was the last warm-up for Kerr's men and, despite going behind to Mark Viduka's effort just after the interval, goals from John O'Shea and Clinton Morrison gave the Irish a welcome win.
Australia entered the match full of confidence, especially after winning 3-1 in a February friendly against England, and it showed when Marco Bresciano, of Italian side Parma AC, hit the post with a drive from 20 metres after 12 minutes. It was another eight minutes before the Irish had their first real chance. Keane's Tottenham team-mate Gary Doherty found himself in a good position, only to head wide of the target.
Danny Tiatto and Stan Lazaridis also had opportunities in the first half, with Ireland's Nick Colgan the busier of the two goalkeepers before Keane suffered his injury when firing a shot in at Australia's Mark Schwarzer. Things got worse for the home side four minutes after the break as Viduka pounced to tap in from close range.
Harte the difference
To their credit, Ireland kept going with Damien Duff and substitute Ian Harte particularly doing their best to restore parity. The equaliser finally came in the 74th minute when Harte's free-kick was headed in by Manchester United FC defender O'Shea. Morrison, another of Kerr's replacements, then gave his side victory with ten minutes to play. Harte was again the provider, supplying a precise through-ball for the Birmingham City FC forward to beat Schwarzer.
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