Keane concedes home side didn't deserve loss as Irish escape with Astana victory

Paul Hyland

ROBBIE Keane didn't mince his words after a desperately disappointing performance in Astana but, as always, he was happy to take the result and move on.

"We did not deserve to get the three points, there's no question about that," said Keane. "We did not play that well and, to be fair to them, they stopped us from playing and they made it very, very difficult for us with two banks of four and two holding midfielders just sitting in front of the back four.

"Their backs did not push on so they gave us no space. It was tough but full credit to the boys as we came back and got the three points. We are coming out with three points we probably did not deserve."

Keane had no doubt that referee Avram Ionut made the right decision after he was bundled across the line in that 89th-minute goalmouth scramble.

"It was a penalty alright. Ten minutes before that he did the same thing and the ref warned him 'no more pulling'. I'm not too sure if it was the same player, to be honest, but they had done it a few times," claimed the Ireland skipper.

"I felt that if we got a goal back we might push on as they were just there to defend. When I got the penalty I could see in their faces that they just wanted to take the point and get the game over with.

"Luckily enough for us we kept plugging away and it was a great finish by Kevin Doyle. Stephen Ward knocked it down with a header and Kevin showed what a great finisher he is.


"It's a big result for us as it looked like it was not going our way. Now we can take on Germany with three points in the bag. One thing it does is make the journey back a lot easier."

Meanwhile, James McCarthy, one of the very few who emerged with some credit on a night when most of his team-mates lost their way, picked his words carefully after the game, clearly unwilling to cause any more aggravation for himself with Giovanni Trapattoni.

"It's not an easy place to come, especially with the Astroturf pitch. We made it a hard job for ourselves but the most important thing is that we got the three points."

McCarthy is convinced that the pitch played a big role in the story of the game and also believes that it will catch out the rest of Ireland's group rivals. "The pitch -- people will come here and not expect Kazakhstan to do much against them. But they are a good side and they knock the ball about," he said.

"I felt we pushed on in the second half and it was just a matter of time before we got the goal. Eventually we got it and thankfully we got the winner then in the end."


McCarthy never stopped believing, even if it was difficult to see where a goal was going to come from despite the fact that Trapattoni threw five strikers at Kazakhstan for 89 minutes without any result.

"No, no, I kept believing. And if you keep believing you have a chance and we got the result," he said.

Asked about his own performance, McCarthy went into diplomacy mode and kept a straight face and a straight bat.

"It's not about me; it's about the team and I'm delighted for the team," he said.

"I'm in there to do a job for the team and I'm happy to do whatever.

"We played a bit of the long ball at first but in the second half I thought we got to grips with it and passed the ball, getting used to the surface. The pitch was a bit sticky but eventually it worked out well for us."