Keane: I wanted to play on

Robbie Keane admitted he had been “desperate” to stay on and go for his hat-trick before being substituted following his two-goal haul in tonight’s 5-0 hammering of rivals Northern Ireland.

The Tottenham striker moved within two goals of an international half-century as the Republic crushed their neighbours in the Carling Nations Cup in Dublin.

Stephen Ward and Simon Cox marked their international debuts with a goal and Northern Ireland’s misery was compounded by a Craig Cathcart own goal and a red card for Adam Thompson.

Keane told Sky Sports 1: “It’s a friendly game but when you’re playing against your rivals there is no such thing, it’s always important to get a good win and we did that convincingly.

“I wanted to stay on – I think I need one more to equal the English record (held by Bobby Charlton), so I was desperate to stay on, but never mind.

“Luckily Coxy stayed on because he scored a goal and it was a great debut for him, we’re all delighted for him. All in all it’s a great win for us.”

Fellow goalscorer Ward said: “It’s nice, obviously to get the win and cap it with a goal, my first goal, it’s a good night all round. I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Cox added: “I’m pleased, it’s a good win for the lads and I capped it off with a nice goal.”

Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington hopes the game can be used as a learning tool.

“It was a very difficult evening and we knew that beforehand,” he said.

“If you look at the five goals, four come down to ourselves, basic individual errors, and the Republic take advantage of that.”

His side next face Wales on Friday and Worthington added: “It’s nice that we’ve got the group together for a week, we’ve got another relatively big game on Friday night and I said to the players ’get a smile on your faces, dust yourselves down and get ready to go again’.”

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