Football

McClean: Keane would have killed me if I missed

GROUP D

AUSTRIA 0

IRELAND 1

(James McClean 48)

James McClean fired the Republic of Ireland to a precious World Cup qualifying victory in Austria to spare himself a showdown with Roy Keane.

The 27-year-old West Brom winger scored the only goal at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna yesterday morning (Singapore time) with a sweetly struck left-footed drive, and later revealed he had assistant manager Keane on his mind as he raced in on goalkeeper Ramazan Ozcan.

McClean told Sky Sports after the 1-0 win: "If I had missed the target, Roy would have killed me. He hammers us in training that we must hit the target. I hit it sweetly and it flew through the keeper's legs.

"It was without a doubt my biggest goal for Ireland."

McClean played in Vienna after recovering from a back injury which threatened to rule him out, and his individual display earned him praise from manager Martin O'Neill, who handed him his chance in the Premier League as a youngster during their time together at Sunderland.

O'Neill said: "I gave him his full debut. James had played a reserve game just before that and I saw someone with great desire, and I think over the past couple of years he has improved and that is great for us...

"I believe - and have always believed - this group will be tight, I think teams will still take points from each other.

"I'm genuinely pleased that we have won the game, really pleased to have 10 points on the board from four matches. But there's a million miles to go."

O'Neill's unbeaten side are two points clear at the top of Group D and that will remain the case until hostilities resume in March when the Welsh make the short trip to Dublin for a potentially key contest. - PA Sport.

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