Ireland rule Azerbaijan at break after Robinson brace

Callum Robinson has scored two goals to give the Republic of Ireland a 2-0 rule over Azerbaijan at half-time in Baku.

Robinson was given the opportunity to do his talking on the pitch when he was named in Ireland’s starting line-up for Saturday evening’s World Cup qualifier in Azerbaijan.

The West Brom striker found himself under the spotlight during the run-up to the game after revealing he had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 despite twice contracting the virus, but he was included by manager Stephen Kenny in one of two changes to the side who drew 1-1 with Serbia last month.

Robinson and Daryl Horgan came in for the suspended Alan Browne and Jamie McGrath, who was named among the substitutes, while 19-year-old Norwich defender Andrew Omobamidele retained his place, as did club-mate Adam Idah following his recovery from illness.

Robinson made his mark with just seven minutes gone when wing-back James McClean played the ball into his path and he steadied himself before drilling a left-foot shot high to keeper Shakhrudin Magomedaliyev’s right and into the top corner to give the visitors the perfect start.

Striker Filip Ozobic forced a 24th-minute save from Gavin Bazunu as Azerbaijan produced a concerted response, but Robinson might have doubled his tally with a 31st-minute volley which flew just over.

However, he did make it 2-0 with six minutes of the half remaining when his right-footed shot flicked defender Hojjat Haghverdi and flew past Magomedaliyev and inside the far post.

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