Robbie Keane will be returning to the Galaxy in the best of spirits after leading Ireland to Euro 2012.
The playoff with Estonia isn't finished -- the second leg will be Tuesday in Dublin -- but it might as well be after Keane tallied twice in a 4-0 triumph Friday in Tallinn that will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.
“The cat is in the sack,” Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni told reporters after the victory. “But the sack is not closed. There are still 90 minutes to go, and the cat is still dangerous. It's a wild cat.”
The Irish, who have lost in four of their past five playoffs for a major-tournament berth, are in one of four series for the final berths in next year's 16-nation European Championship, to be played in Poland and the Ukraine.
Keane, who returned quickly from a muscle tear and found his form in three playoff appearances for the Galaxy, was a pivotal performer, scoring his 52nd and 53rd international goals, in the 71st and 88th minutes, to double the lead provided by Keith Andrews and, on a Keane feed, Jonathan Walters.
The L.A. star also was the key figure in two Estonian red cards, taken down by Andrei Stepanov to give Ireland a one-man advantage in the 35th minute and luring a handball from captain Raio Piiroja that denied him a clear path to the net in the second half.
In the other playoff openers, Croatia won, 3-0, at Turkey; the Czechs won, 2-0, at home against Montenegro; and Portugal notched a 0-0 draw at Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Keane returns to the Galaxy following Tuesday's game, to join preparations for the Nov. 20 MLS Cup final against Houston at Home Depot Center.