Norwich City’s Wes Hoolahan impresses in Republic of Ireland’s 4-0 win over Georgia
- Credit: PA
Wes Hoolahan was handed a rare start as Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni ran the rule over his squad players in Sunday's friendly clash with Georgia.
The 31-year-old Norwich City playmaker won just his fifth senior cap as the Irish warmed up for their forthcoming World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands with a comprehensive win.
Hoolahan turned in an impressive individual display in the middle of the park before being substituted to a loud round of applause with 15 minutes remaining.
He played a key role in Simon Cox's goal which made it 2-0 early in the second half.
He also saw a second half header go just wide as he gave Trapattoni a reminder of what he could do, having been totally overlooked for Wednesday night's friendly against England.
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Hoolahan was one of nine changes to the side which started at Wembley with Keiren Westwood, Paul McShane, Richard Keogh, Damien Delaney, Marc Wilson, Andy Keogh, James McClean and Simon Cox also getting the nod.
Robbie Keane came on as a second half subsititute and marked his record-equalling 125th appearance with a double.
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The 32-year-old climbed off the bench to draw level with keeper Shay Given, and will go top of the list if, as expected, he leads Ireland into World Cup qualifier battle with the Faroe Islands on Friday evening.
Keane claimed his 55th international goal from point-blank range with 13 minutes of the game remaining and then took his tally to 56 three minutes from time to seal a comfortable victory, with the Georgians labouring after keeper Giorgi Loria's 20th-minute dismissal.
Derby defender Richard Keogh had opened the scoring three minutes before the break with his first senior international goal, and Nottingham Forest striker Simon Cox extended the home side's lead three minutes after the restart after good work by Hoolahan and James McClean.
Given that the game was being played on June 2 at a sparsely-populated Aviva Stadium, there was a distinctly end-of-season feel about the fixture.
The Irish started slowly but having worked their way into the game, took control early on and never looked like surrendering it.
They were aided and abetted in no small part by the premature departure of Loria, who trudged off the pitch with just 20 minutes gone after racing from his goal and upending Shane Long to prompt Romanian referee Sebastian Constantin Coltescu to produce a red card.
The Georgians' resistance was finally broken three minutes before the break when McClean curled a free-kick into the box and Keogh climbed highest to head home.
Cox quickly made it 2-0 when he side-footed home McClean's driven cross after the winger had been picked out by Hoolahan, and from then on it was merely a case of how many the Republic would score, with Keane's late double providing the icing on the cake for the hosts.