Keane scores hat trick, sets Irish games record

STEVE DOUGLAS
June 8, 2013
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Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane, left, reacts with Jon Walters after scoring a goal against the Faroe Islands during their World Cup 2014 Qualifying Group C match, at the Aviva stadium, Dublin, Ireland, Friday, June 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Robbie Keane scored a hat trick and set an Irish record with his 126th international appearance Friday night during a 3-0 win over the Faeroe Islands in a World Cup qualifier at Dublin.

The Los Angeles Galaxy forward scored from close range in the fifth, 56th and 81st minutes, increasing his Irish record goals total to 59. He broke goalkeeper Shay Given's mark of 125 appearances.

Ireland (3-1-2) moved into the third place in Group C, overtaking Sweden (2-1-2), which lost 2-1 at Austria as David Alaba and Marc Janko scored for the hosts. Germany (5-0-1) leads the group, followed by Austria (3-1-2), which is ahead of the Irish on goal difference.

The nine European group winners qualify for the 32-nation field in Brazil next year, and the top eight second-place teams advance to playoffs.

Portugal revived its qualifying campaign by beating Russia 1-0, and Mario Balotelli was ejected from Italy's 0-0 tie at the Czech Republic, a result that moved the four-time world champions closer to next year's tournament.

In South America, first-place Argentina (7-1-4) was held to a 0-0 tie at home against Colombia. Argentina's Lionel Messi, hampered by a hamstring injury since April 2, entered in the 57th minute for his first game action since May 12. Argentina's Gonzalo Higuaín (Argentina) and Colombia's Cristian Zapata received 26th-minute red cards following a clash.

The top four South American nations qualify.

In North and Central America and the Caribbean, Brad Evans' stoppage-time goal in the second half gave the U.S. a 2-1 at Jamaica and Mexico played a 0-0 tie at Panama, the fourth draw in five qualifiers for El Tri.

At Lisbon, Helder Postiga scored in the ninth minute and lifted Portugal (4-1-2) from third to first in Group F. Cristiano Ronaldo played his first game since Real Madrid's loss to crosstown rival Atletico in the Copa del Rey final on May 17.

Italy (4-0-2) opened a four-point lead over Bulgaria in Group B with its draw at Prague. Balotelli was sent off after getting yellow cards in the 68th and 72nd minutes.

England (3-0-3), second in Group H, is back in control of its own destiny after third-place Ukraine (3-1-2) won 4-0 at first-place Montenegro (4-1-2).

Belgium (6-0-1) opened a three-point lead in Group A, winning 2-1 at home against Serbia as Kevin De Bruyne scored in the 14th minute and assisted on Marouane Fellaini's goal in the 60th. Scotland (1-4-2) won 1-0 at second-place Croatia (5-1-1) on a 26th-minute goal by Robert Snodgrass.

Bosnia-Herzegovina (5-0-1) maintained a three-point lead in Group G, winning 5-1 at Latvia. Second-place Greece (4-1-1) won 1-0 at Lithuania.

Malta won 1-0 at Armenia on Michael Mifsud's eighth-minute goal, only the second-ever victory for the island nation in World Cup qualifying. Malta had been 0-42-5 since winning at Estonia in May 1993.