By Mark Jones
DUBLIN – The Republic of Ireland were outclassed by Argentina in last week’s soccer friendly at Lansdowne Road, losing by 2-0, but at least Manager Mick McCarthy could be satisfied at the emergence of a shining new star on the international scene.
Dubliner Robbie Keane might be only 17, but the youthful striker delivered a superb performance full of skill and pace on Wednesday. While other Irish players struggled to contain the Argentines, who are one of the favorites for this summer’s World Cup, Keane continually produced flashes of sheer brilliance.
The result was never in doubt as two first-half goals by Gabriel Batistuta and Ariel Ortega gave Argentina a fully deserved 2-0 victory, yet Keane nearly scored twice as the home team mounted a revival after the interval.
For reasons best known to himself, McCarthy had decided to leave both Denis Irwin and Phil Babb on the bench at the start, but by halftime he had realized that a change was badly needed as Ian Harte and Gary Breen both completely failed to contain the Argentinian attack.
Irwin and Babb were introduced and at last Ireland looked a more composed team. Apart from the outstanding Keane, Mark Kinsella showed Mark McCarthy that he has future at international level and Lee Carsley battled well in midfield.
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