Ireland beat Kazakhstan in final Group C game
Ireland came from behind to beat Kazakhstan 3-1 at the Aviva Stadium in the final game of their disappointing World Cup 2014 campaign on Tuesday night.
Dmitriy Shomko had put the visitors ahead in the 13th minute, but a Robbie Keane penalty, an opportunistic John O’Shea strike and an own goal from Shomko ensured Noel King’s interregnum as Ireland manager ended on a positive note.
Ireland finish their Group C campaign in a disappointing fourth place, with Germany topping the group and Sweden taking the play-off spot.
However, the win over the Kazakhs means that Ireland move into a second seeding spot for the Euro 2016 qualifiers – and will stay there unless Romania, who finished second behind the Netherlands in Group D, win both play-off games.
Kazakhstan had taken an early lead in the 13th minute, and in emphatic fashion. Seamus Coleman failed to clear a high ball to the left channel, and the ball dropped for Shomko to hit a left-footed, across-the-laces effort from 25 yards that curled past Ireland goalkeeper David Forde and into the far corner of the net.
With fewer than 15,000 people in the ground (despite an official attendance of 21,700) it was one of those nights when the shouts of the players could be heard with digital clarity, so it would be an exaggeration to say the Aviva Stadium was silenced by the strike.
But the decibel level soon moved up, as Ireland equalised just four minutes later.
Kazakhstan defender Alexander Kislitsyn inexplicably thrust out an arm as he competed with Richard Dunne for a header, prompting referee Vadims Direktorenko to immediately point to the penalty spot.
Ireland skipper Keane coolly stroked his spot-kick to the left of goalkeeper Sidelnikov for his 61st goal on his 130th appearance for his country.
If the equaliser was a gift, the Kazakhstan defence was even more generous for Ireland’s second goal.
Andy Reid’s deep corner to the back post was headed into the ground and goalwards by Richard Dunne, but with little power. However, Sidelnikov flapped at the ball and O’Shea swooped for only his second goal for Ireland on his 93rd appearance.
Ireland then netted a third 13 minutes from time as the Kazakhstan defence again proved in a giving mood.
Aiden McGeady, on as a substitute for the impressive Andy Reid, cut in from the left and Shomko, under pressure from Kevin Doyle and Keane, could only poke the low cross into his own net.
Not everything went Ireland’s way, however, as Darron Gibson suffered a knee injury when attempting a first-half tackle, and was carried off the field on a stretcher.
The Everton midfielder, who was being watched at the Aviva Stadium by his club manager Roberto Martinez, damaged the ligaments on his right knee and will undergo a scan in Liverpool on Wednesday.