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Ireland qualify for EURO 2012 championships after 5-1 aggregate win over Estonia

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Ireland started off brightly as Damien Duff ran inside from the left on two minutes but put his shot high and wide, but no one in the crowd appeared to care that much, as the ROI had all but qualified after their first leg result.

Robbie Keane worked his way through the middle of the defence after four minutes, but the ball broke free just when Ireland’s all-time top scorer was about to pull the trigger.

He should have added to his tally after a free kick from Stephen Hunt on six minutes, the Estonian keeper spilled Duff’s shot and Keane latched onto it, but he put it wide when he had scored from the same range in the first leg in Tallinn.

With only nine minutes on the clock Estonia’s Taavi Rahn was booked for a foul on Damien Duff after the winger had shown him a clean pair of heels on the left flank. The referee awarded Rahn a yellow card but it could have been red.

Estonia had their first chance on goal on 13 minutes when Vladimir Voiskoboinikov latched onto a through ball, but Given was aware of the threat and dealt comfortably with it.

The first substitution of the match came on 17 minutes when Dmitri Kruglov was taken off injured, replaced by Sander Puri.

A good break away by Ireland on 22 minutes saw Doyle on the right cross the ball to Duff on the left, but his ball was cut out for a corner.

Just after the half hour mark Stephen Ward put in a good cross from the left, but it was cut out for a corner. From the resulting corner taken by Damien Duff, it was met by Kevin Doyle but the Estonian keeper Londak couldn’t hold onto the ball and it fell to Stephen Ward who scored from seven yards out.

Vladimir Voiskoboinikov tested Shay Given from 18 yards out as the Estonians searched for an equaliser on the night, but they rarely tested Shay Given in Ireland’s goal.

Most of Ireland’s first half play had come down the left flank through Damien Duff, who was Ireland’s main creative force.

Into the second half and Estonia started brightly pressing the RoI back.

Estonia’s Tarmo Kink came on to replace Joel Lindpere on 54 minutes. The substitute almost made an immediate impact when he cut in purposefully from the right on 55 minutes but could not hit the target.

Two minutes later Konstanin Vassiljev fired in a powerful shot from 20 yards, Given could not get enough onto it and Estonia had their equaliser on the night. It was the Estonian player’s sixth goal of the competition.

Just before the hour mark Spartak Moscow midfielder Aiden McGeady came on for Hunt and the former Celtic man-made an instant impact from them left feeding Robbie Keane in the box, but his shot was blocked at the near post.

On 67 minutes Robbie Keane received a huge ovation as he was taken off for Simon Cox.

On 72 minutes Estonia brought on Ats Purje for Voskoboinikov.

The game was end to end as it was reaching its climax with both Estonia and Ireland having a number of chances, but with the final whistle sounding it was Ireland who would be making their travel plans for Ukraine and Poland in the summer.

After the match Estonian manager Tarmo Ruutli described Friday’s 4-0 defeat as ‘an accident’. He also added that last night’s game was ‘a true reflection of the distance between the two teams’.

When asked if it was difficult for him to motivate the team after the tie being effectively over with, he gave a wry smile.

Ireland manager Trappatoni said that, ‘in “second option” the second string of players would be prominent in his thoughts in the coming months’. He specifically mentioned James McCarthy being in his plans.

Rep of Ireland: Given, O’Shea, St. Ledger, Dunne, Ward, Duff (Fahey 79), Whelan, Andrews, Hunt (McGeady 59), Keane (Cox 67), Doyle. Subs Not Used: Westwood, McCarthy, O’Dea, Walters.

Goals: Ward 32.

Estonia: Londak, Jaager, Rahn, Klavan, Kruglov (Puri 18), Teniste, Vassiljev, Vunk, Lindpere (Kink 54), Saag, Voskoboinikov (Purje 72). Subs Not Used: Kotenko, Sisov, Dmitrijev, Barengrub.

Booked: Rahn, Vunk.

Goals: Vassiljev 57.

Att: 51,151

Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland).

Match report by Phil Mac Giolla Bhain @ Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Phil Mac Giolla Bhain is an author, blogger, journalist and writer based in Donegal, Ireland. He has broken some of the most high-profile stories in recent times regarding Scottish Football. From the Hugh Dallas email scandal to the Rangers tax issue, the Neil Lennon letter bomb attacks not to mention tackling the racist Famine Song. Phil has written for the likes of the, Caledonian Mercury, Celtic View, Guardian, Magill, Irish Independent and the Irish Post. Phil is an active member of the NUJ sitting on the Irish Executive Council and the New Media Industrial Council.

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