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The Other Keane Saves Ireland

Soccer: With Roy dismissed from the team, Robbie scores in the 92nd minute to salvage a 1-1 tie with Germany.

June 06, 2002|MIKE PENNER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ireland's 2002 World Cup, so far a contrasting tale of two Keanes, pressed further into the surreal Wednesday when Robbie Keane, the one who didn't go home, scored an improbable goal, in the 92nd minute, to salvage a 1-1 tie with Germany in Ibaraki, Japan.

Keane's goal, coming seconds before the final whistle, struck the hand of German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and the inside of the right post before grazing the top of the net and sending an incredulous Irish bench into convulsions of joy.

"We deserved something out of the game," said a drained Mick McCarthy, the Irish coach. "We battered them, and gave Germany a good doing, actually."

Ireland, forced to play this World Cup without captain Roy Keane, who was dismissed from the team after clashing with McCarthy, has rallied from second-half deficits against Cameroon and Germany to record successive 1-1 ties, remaining undefeated and in contention for a berth in the second round.

Germany (1-0-1) scored in the 19th minute when Michael Ballack lobbed in a long cross from the left flank and Miroslav Klose, having beaten defender Ian Harte, headed past Irish keeper Shay Given. The goal was the fourth of the World Cup for Klose, who had a hat trick in Germany's opening 8-0 triumph over Saudi Arabia.

Ireland spent the rest of the match futilely trying to equalize, turned back repeatedly by Kahn. McCarthy gambled with his lineup, pulling a defender in favor of a third forward, towering 35-year-old Niall Quinn, a veteran of Ireland's 1990 quarterfinal run. As the game entered stoppage time, Quinn performed his specialty, winning a high aerial ball at the top of the German penalty area and flicking to Keane.

Keane chested the ball down and between the last two German defenders. One of them, Carsten Ramelow, came up empty on a desperate lunge for the ball and suddenly Keane was through, one on one with Kahn.

Keane struck the ball hard and high, glancing it off Kahn and the right post before hitting the inside top webbing.

"We had to take a chance at the end," McCarthy said, "but what's the point in going out without a fight? That was never going to happen."

Ireland midfielder Gary Kelly said the last-ditch comeback was "typical of the fighting Irish. We were fighting 11 Germans and the referee tonight, but we knuckled in and we just kept going.

"It's never over until the final whistle. And now, we are over the moon."

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