A brace from Andrew Keogh is enough to give the Irish U-21 team an early advantage before the return leg in Ireland next week. 11th May 2006
UEFA Under-21 European Championship Preliminary Round first-leg tie
Azerbaijan 1 Republic of Ireland 2
Irelands Under-21 striker Andrew Keogh scored twice in only his third appearance at this level to give the Republic a crucial advantage ahead of next Thursdays return leg at Buckley Park in Kilkenny.
Azerbaijan broke the deadlock midway into the opening half at the Shafa Stadium in Baku through Murad Aghakishiyev but a spirited response from the Irish resulted in them turning the tie in their favour during the second half.
Scunthorpe United striker Keogh, five days short of his 20th birthday, provided the equaliser after 58 minutes by heading in at the back post from Aiden McGeadys free-kick on the left.
The Dubliner settled the game in the 88th minute when he swivelled in the penalty area to pounce upon a loose ball and convert the winner. Republic keeper Darren Quigley was issued with a straight red-card by the Referee in injury-time after reacting to a heavy challenge by one of the home sides strikers.
Irelands performance improved as the game progressed, with Paul Keegan of Drogheda United bossing the midfield area and Andrew Keogh impressive as the Republics sole striker in a 4-5-1 formation.
The well-deserved victory puts Ireland in pole position to advance into the Group phase of the competition against Belgium and Greece, scheduled to begin in early September.
Ireland manager Don Givens was delighted to emerge from the first-leg with a good result: "We made a sloppy start to the game and had to withstand some pressure after going a goal behind. We did not give them too many chances, though, and once we came into the game late in the first half, I was confident we would get goals."
"Andy (Keogh) was superb up front," admitted Givens. "The two wingers, Roy (O Donovan) and Aiden (McGeady) spent most of the game tracking back and Andy did a fantastic job for us on his own up there. He deserved the two goals because of the effort he put in."
The Republic can look forward with optimism to the return leg in Buckley Park, Kilkenny next Thursday (May 18th), Kick-off 7.30pm.
"We should finish the job off next week at home," said Givens. "The pitch here was very poor, so we are looking forward to playing in Buckley Park on a good surface."
Darren Quigley U.C.D
Kevin Foley Luton Town
Richard Keogh Bristol City
Alex Bruce Birmingham City
Marcos Painter Birmingham City
Paul Keegan Drogheda United
Willo Flood Manchester City
Michael Timlin Fulham
Roy O Donovan Cork City (Shane Long - Reading 82 mins)
Andy Keogh Scunthorpe
Aiden McGeady Celtic
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Keogh gives Ireland the edge
Azerbaijan 1 Republic of Ireland 2
Friday, May 12, 2006
Republic of Ireland Under-21 manager Don Givens hailed the display of two-goal hero Andy Keogh as his under-strength side staged a come-from-behind performance to secure a crucial lead in their European Championships preliminary round clash with the Azeris.
After conceding a 20th-minute opener to Murad Aghakishiyev in the first leg in Baku, Keogh turned the game around with a second-half brace.
His first goal for Ireland — on his third appearance — came in the 58th minute, with the Scunthorpe striker nodding home a far-post free-kick from Celtic winger Aiden McGeady.
Dublin-born Keogh then clinched a superb win two minutes from time with a fine drive inside the area after latching onto an incisive through ball.
A delighted Givens said: “Andy was excellent throughout the whole game and the goals were a just reward for his performance. Not only did he get the goals, but his overall contribution was superb, especially as he was effectively the only central frontman.”
Played in front of a crowd of 1,500, and cheered on by a 100-strong group of ex-pats, Ireland soaked up early pressure and eventually mastered the dreadful pitch to take control.
“They started off really aggressively and did not let us get going, and for a five-minute spell after the goal we had to weather the storm,” added Givens.
“At that point it looked like we would struggle because we were 1-0 down and not playing well. But towards the end of the first half and throughout the second we took over and deserved to win. I always felt we would get something out of the game, but to get the win was fantastic.”
The result, though, was marred by the dismissal of goalkeeper Darren Quigley in the dying moments for violent conduct.
Quigley, who plays for UCD, was gouged in the eye and shoved into the back of the net as he caught a cross, to which he retaliated.
Givens said: “Darren did react, which you kind of think was a silly thing to do, but it was perfectly understandable in the circumstances.”
Despite finishing the game with 10 men, the result sets up Givens’ side for next Thursdays return leg at Kilkenny’s Buckley Park.
Hopes are now high of reaching the group stages later this year where Greece and Belgium await, with Givens adding: “We should now finish the job.”
REP OF IRELAND: Quigley (UCD), Foley (Luton Town), Keogh (Bristol City), Bruce (Birmingham City), Painter (Birmingham City), Keegan (Drogheda Utd), Flood (Man City), Timlin (Fulham), O Donovan (Cork City), Keogh (Scunthorpe), McGeady (Celtic).
Sub:,/b> S. Long (Reading, 62) for O Donovan.