Republic of Ireland finished a poor FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign on a high with a 3-1 Group C win over Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
Ireland, who have slipped to 59th in the FIFA rankings following a poor run that saw previous manager Giovanni Trapattoni sacked, triumphed courtesy of goals from captain Robbie Keane and defender John O'Shea, with a late Dmitriy Shomko own goal adding gloss in Dublin.
They trailed in the early stages after Shomko's stunning strike from distance but Keane scored from the penalty spot – his 61st goal for his country in 130 appearances – to level proceedings in the 17th minute.
O'Shea then punished Kazakhstan goalkeeper Andrey Sidelnikov for spilling a header with his first goal in more than 10 years for Ireland before Shomko turned into his net in the latter stages as Ireland won just their second World Cup qualifier of the year.
Keane recovered from an ankle injury to headline four changes made by interim Ireland manager Noel King, who also handed Andy Reid his first international appearance in almost six years and recalled O'Shea and Richard Dunne after suspensions.
Keane had the game's first chance in the ninth minute and although his flick header was tame, Sidelnikov fumbled it in a sign of things to come.
The visitors should have taken the lead moments later, only for Maxat Baizhanov to put a free header over the bar, but their frustration did not last long thanks to Shomko's brilliant effort.
Shomko made the most of a poor attempted clearance from Seamus Coleman, hitting a stunning left-footed strike from 25 yards that went in off the inside of the post and left Ireland goalkeeper David Forde with no chance.
Ireland were quickly back on level terms after Kazakh defender Alexander Kislitsyn needlessly handled a Reid corner.
Keane converted the resultant penalty with ease before another mistake allowed Ireland to score, with Sidelnikov the culprit on this occasion.
The goalkeeper flapped at a Dunne header following another innocuous Reid corner and O'Shea reacted quickest, hooking into the net from close range with his left foot.
The first half petered out following Darron Gibson's knee injury, which forced him off on a stretcher after a fall.
Keane shot wide in the first minute of the second half and a sustained period of pressure followed, as Reid, Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson went close for the hosts, who were nearly made to pay for their profligacy when Kazakh sub Igor Yurin flashed an effort wide.
Reid had two more efforts on goal before Ireland sealed the result with 14 minutes to play.
Anthony Stokes did well to keep a ball in at the byline, and he fed Aiden McGeady, who saw his ball across the face of goal turned in by Shomko.
|Coach: N. King|
for D. Gibson 37'
for A. Reid 75'
for A. Stokes 87'
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Brondby and Slovan to protect handsome leads|
|Bentaleb pens new long-term deal at Tottenham|
|Barca agree Turan deal|
|FIFA bans Mayne-Nicholls|
|United States v Honduras: Klinsmann demands improvement ahead of Gold Cup opener|
|CONCACAF institutes extensive reforms in wake of FIFA corruption scandal|
|Mauri completes Milan move|
|City sign Turkey striker|
|Women´s World Cup final draws huge US TV ratings|
|My first Chelsea team better than current crop - Drogba|
|Bertrand set for lay-off after knee surgery|
|New five-year Juve deal for Marchisio|
|Allegri extends Juve contract|
|Koeman reiterates Alderweireld interest|
|Valencia bag Bakkali|
|New York City FC complete Pirlo capture|
|Panama v Haiti: Collat ready to challenge the best of CONCACAF|
|UEFA Champions League Preview: Harrison eyes TNS progression|
|FIFA sanctions Yemen for fielding ineligible player|
|Toulouse rubbish Ben Yedder exit reports|
|Mourinho ´knows what he´s doing´ with Falcao signing|
|Watford shell out club-record fee for Capoue|
|Braafheid signs Lazio extension|
|Nani finalises Fenerbahce move|
|Liverpool confirm O´Driscoll appointment|
|Liverpool have to start better - Lucas|
|USA simply too good - Sasaki|
|Portland Timbers 1 San Jose Earthquakes 0: Jewsbury wins it in stoppage time|
|No move yet for Van Persie|
|Lloyd wins Golden Ball, Silver Boot awards|
|Mascherano: I never grabbed Banega|
|Dunga requested Brazil not appeal Neymar´s suspension|
|United States 5 Japan 2: Lloyd stars with hat-trick|
|Fiorentina deny Inter criticism|
|Nani relishing Fenerbahce opportunity|
|Newcastle hold talks over Northampton youngster|
|Cuadrado´s agent plays down Chelsea exit rumours|
|Liverpool´s Alberto set for Deportivo loan|
|Leverkusen suffer surprise defeat, Stuttgart hit six|
|Inter ´dismayed´ at Fiorentina vice-president´s Salah Twitter outburst|
|Blaszczykowski ruled out of Dortmund´s Asia tour|
|Gerrard gets the beers in for LA Galaxy fans|
|De Gea coy over Real links|
|Former Brazil star Carlos handed Delhi reins|
|Ciftci will not push through Celtic switch – agent|
|In-demand Mitrovic considering Roma offer|
|Lehmann calls on Cech to ´get over´ Chelsea|
|Marlos double sinks Monaco|
|Mauritius 0 South Africa 2 (agg 0-5): Bafana set up Angola qualifier|
|Keane relishing Gerrard arrival|
|Palace confirm Cabaye interest|
|Hamburg bring in Spahic after head-butt ban|
|Blatter hits out at France and Germany over World Cup votes|
|Sanchez: World Cup exit spurred Chile to Copa glory|
|Jojic makes Cologne switch, Santana move falls through|
|Carrillo keen to get going at Monaco|
|Micronesia thrashed 38-0 as Fiji triumph in Olympic qualifier|
|Schalke stunned by ´machine´ Caicara|
|MLS Review: Keane shines at Gerrard´s Galaxy unveiling|
|Counter-attacking the key for Japan|
|Jimenez happy at Atletico|
|Gerrard predicts ´successful future´ with Galaxy|
|Iniesta can´t see Real selling Ramos|
|Keshi sacked as Nigeria coach|
|Three finals, three defeats for Messi, Mascherano|
|Nani close to Fenerbahce move|
|Sampaoli revels in ´unbelievable joy´|
|Bravo: Copa victory a dream|
|Martino: Argentina should have won|
|Chile 0 Argentina 0 (4-1 on penalties): Hosts end trophy drought|
|Germany 0 England 1 (after extra time): England make World Cup history|