07.09.2012 at 15:00 Astana
1 - 2
Republic of Ireland
Referee: Ionut Avram
World Cup Qualifier / PROG-match
Kairat Nurdauletov (capt),
Sean St Ledger
James Mc Carthy
Aidan Mc Geady
Kazakhstan 1 Republic of Ireland 2
Two late goals inside a minute were enough to save Ireland's blushes and ensure that Giovanni Trapattoni's side got their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign off to a winning start in Astana tonight.
With three minutes to go, Ireland were trailing to a 37th minute goal from Kazakhstan skipper Kairat Nurdauletov and had struggled in their efforts to find an equaliser.
But then substitute Kevin Doyle made a great run down the left and beat Aleksandr Kislitsyn before delivering a cross that was diverted towards an empty net by Mukhtar Mukhtarov. As Robbie Keane raced in to finish it off he was pulled back by Mikhail Rozhkov and, as the ball was cleared, the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
Up stepped Robbie Keane, captaining the team for the 55th time, to take the vital kick and the LA Galaxy striker made no mistake with a thunderbolt to the top corner as the Kazakhstan keeper Andrei Sidelnikov went the wrong way
The goal rocked a Kazakhstan side which had been on the verge of recording their most famous victory since the country gained independence following the break-up of the Soviet Union and Ireland put them to the sword a minute later when Doyle turned from provider into match-winner.
A long ball into the box by Glenn Whelan was met by the head of Stephen Ward and his knock down was met first time by Doyle who crashed a left-footed volley into the roof of the net from close range for what proved to be the knockout blow.
"We should be playing better than that. At least we got the win," a relieved Doyle admitted after being presented with the 3 Man of the Match Award.
"At half-time, the instruction was to get higher up the pitch as we had been too deep. I was delighted to get the winner, but we struggled all night."
After a bright opening, during which James McCarthy forced Sidelnikov to turn a well placed left-footed shot around the post, Ireland lost their way and found themselves troubled by Kazakhstan's quick passing counter-attacks.
However, there was little danger when Stephen Ward needlessly conceded a free-kick on the left touchline after 37 minutes and the Irish marking was far too lax from the resulting free-kick allowing Nurdauletov enough space on the edge of the six-yard box to ruse unchallenged and head home the in-swinging free-kick from Heinrich Schmidtgal.
Kazakhstan could have extended their lead further after that but Kieren Westwood produced two excellent saves to deny Sergei Ostapenko and substitute Baurzhan Dzholchiyev and keep Ireland in the game.
Then came that Late Late Show which ensured that manager Trapattoni marked his 50th game in charge with a win and gave Ireland their first competitive victory since the first leg of the Euro 2012 play-off over Estonia.
Trapattoni accepted afterwards that the performance was not what he had hoped for but was very happy to have got three points from the team's opening game of the campaign.
"I am happy because we achieved the result," said Trapattoni.
Meanwhile, in tonight's other game in Group C, Germany beat Faroe Islands 3-0 thanks to goals from Mario Goetze and Mesul Oezil (2). Ireland face Germany in their next qualifier at the Aviva Stadium on Friday, October 12.
Republic of Ireland: Keiren Westwood; John O'Shea, Darren O'Dea, Sean St Ledger, Stephen Ward; Simon Cox (Kevin Doyle 58), Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, Aiden McGeady; Robbie Keane (capt), Jonathon Walters (Shane Long 71).
Kazakhstan: Andrei Sidelnikov; Aleksandr Kirov, Aleksandr Kislitsyn, Mukhtar Mukhtarov, Kairat Nurdauletov (capt ), Ulan Konysbaev, Anatoli Bogdanov, Sergei Ostapenko, Heinrich Schmidtga, Tanat Nusserbayev (Baurzhan Dzholchiyev), Mikhail Rozhkov,
Referee: Ionut Avram (Romania).