The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland picked up wins in World Cup qualifying on Wednesday, with the Republic moving even with world champions Italy in Group 8.
Robbie Keane scored a pair of second-half goals to lead the Republic to a 2-1 win over Georgia at Croke Park in Dublin. The win gave the Irish 10 points in their group, the same as leaders Italy after four matches apiece.
Northern Ireland moved up to seven points in Group 3 with a 3-0 win in San Marino, but have played a game more than first-place Slovakia and challengers Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia.
Also on Wednesday, Malta held Albania to a 0-0 draw at home, earning their first point of the qualifying campaign.
Alexander Iashvili gave Georgia the lead after only 46 seconds in Dublin, but Keane equalized in the 71st minute from the penalty spot.
The Spurs man added the winning goal seven minutes later from a corner. Keane scrambled past one defender, lunged low and caught the ball partly with his shoulder — but with enough power to slot between goalkeeper Georgi Lomaia and a defender.
AFP, COLUMBUS, OHIO
Michael Bradley’s brace of goals lifted the US to a 2-0 victory over Mexico, while Andy Furtado struck twice for Costa Rica in a 2-0 World Cup 2010 qualifying win over Honduras on Wednesday.
El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago played to a 2-2 draw in the remaining match on the slate as the six-nation final phase of qualifying for the North and Central America and Caribbean region got underway.
In Columbus, Bradley opened the scoring in the 43rd minute and added another goal in the 90th — after Mexico had been reduced to 10 men with the sending off of Rafael Marquez in the 65th minute.