Ireland routs Northern Ireland 5-0 in Nations Cup
Robbie Keane improved his tally of international goals to 48 by grabbing a double in Ireland's 5-0 thrashing of 10-man Northern Ireland in the four-team Nations Cup on Tuesday.
Keane, making his 106th appearance for his country, scored the second and fourth goals in a one-sided match in Dublin, in the first meeting of the neighboring countries since 1999.
''It's a friendly game but when you're playing against your rivals, there is no such thing,'' said Keane. ''It's always important to get a good win and we did that convincingly.''
After defender Stephen Ward opened the scoring from close range in the 24th minute, Keane doubled the lead in the 37th by pouncing on an underhit backpass by Lee Hodson to chip goalkeeper Alan Blayney.
An own goal on the stroke of halftime by defender Craig Cathcart, who was relegated with Blackpool from the Premier League on Sunday, further added to Northern Ireland's woes before the visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 53rd when Adam Thompson bundled over Keane in the penalty area.
Keane, Ireland's all-time leading scorer, made no mistake from the penalty spot before being withdrawn just after the hour by coach Giovanni Trapattoni.
Simon Cox, who like Ward was making his Ireland debut, rounded off the scoring for the hosts with 10 minutes left.
Ireland, which beat Wales 3-0 in the opening match of the British Isles tournament in February, tops the table and plays Scotland in its final game on Sunday.
It was Northern Ireland's second defeat in the tournament, after a 3-0 defeat to Scotland.
The away side was backed by only around 200 fans as a result of a protest over restrictive travel arrangements for the match.
England is not playing in the tournament, which was last contested in 1984 - when it was called the Home Nations Championship and featured all five British Isles teams.