United, who had a last-minute Louis Saha penalty saved by Artur Boruc, now must draw with Benfica to qualify for the last 16. Arsenal beat Hamburg 3-1.
IRELAND GET FIRST WIN
Robbie Keane contributed a hat-trick to Ireland’s 5-0 win over San Marino on Wednesday in the last international soccer game played at Lansdowne Road before it closes for redevelopment.
Steven Reid and Kevin Doyle also scored in their team’s first victory in Qualifying Group D of European Championships ’08. Irish mood was further helped by news that Germany could only draw with Cyprus in Nicosia, dropping two easy points where Ireland embarrassingly dropped three a few weeks ago.
The win over San Marino, Europe’s lowest rank team, was not in doubt beforehand, but the Irish were anxious to score as many as possible. The fans might have hoped for a goal fest considering the visitors had conceded 13 in their game against Germany and seven against the Czech Republic.
In the end, manager Steve Staunton declared himself satisfied overall.
“We were a bit sloppy at times but overall did a professional job and that was all we could do,” he said.
Added Tottenham star Keane: “We knew it was important to keep the ball moving as fast as we could and that is why we got our goals.
“It is always nice to score early. Once we got that goal we knew the pressure was off us and we could play with a bit more freedom.”
That first goal came from a deflected free-kick from Blackburn Rovers midfielder Reid in the 7th minute. It was followed by a header from former League of Ireland star Kevin Doyle and then Keane’s three, which included a penalty kick.
“There’s more to play for yet so we won’t be giving up the ghost,” said Staunton.
Ireland now have four points after four games. Germany, who beat Irish the 1-0 in Stuttgart, and the Czechs, who took a point in a 1-1 draw in Dublin, top the table with 10 points apiece, also after four games. Slovakia have six points (four games played), Cyprus four (four) and Wales three (three).