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Ireland put four past nine-man Estonia

Estonia 0-4 Republic of Ireland
Robbie Keane scored twice after Keith Andrews and Jon Walters had set his side on their way, with Estonia unable to stem the green tide in Tallinn.

Ireland put four past nine-man Estonia
Ireland put four past nine-man Estonia ©UEFA.com

Goals from Keith Andrews, Jon Walters and Robbie Keane propelled the Republic of Ireland to a comfortable UEFA EURO 2012 play-off win in Tallinn, with Estonia having a central defender sent off in each half.

Andrews headed Giovanni Trapattoni's side into an early lead and while Estonia held their own for a time, the dismissal of Andrei Stepanov before the break left them with a mountain to climb. Walters' header and a predatory finish from Keane further tilted the tie in the visitors' favour, before Raio Piiroja's red card and a Keane penalty turned what might have been Estonia's finest footballing hour into a damage limitation operation.

Estonia looked nervy at first but Konstantin Vassiljev's presence in midfield helped to raise their spirits. The FC Amkar Perm man was their five-goal top scorer in qualifying and showed his menace from range with a shot which Andrews deflected over the bar. However, the same player made a crucial intervention at the other end on 13 minutes, nodding Aiden McGeady's ball from the left inside Sergei Pareiko's left-hand post.

To the home side's credit, they took that setback well, and might have equalised had Dmitri Kruglov elected to shoot rather than pass when picked out inside the box. Vassiljev then had Shay Given scrambling with a drive across goal before disaster struck again for Tarmo Rüütli's men, with centre-back Stepanov receiving a second yellow card for a 34th-minute foul on Keane.

Vassiljev snuck a free-kick under the Irish wall ten minutes after the break, but Estonia's grip on the tie loosened significantly on 67 minutes when Walters made it 2-0. The Stoke City FC forward headed in at the far post after Keane looped a loose ball across the face of goal when Pareiko failed to hold McGeady's powerful shot from the edge of the box.

Keane scavenged a third goal four minutes later, beating the grounded Pareiko after the goalkeeper could only block a McGeady free-kick. Piiroja then became the second Estonia central defender to receive a second yellow card. Keane delivered another punishing blow on 88 minutes, converting from the spot after Ats Purje fouled Stephen Hunt.