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Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Keane returns from Irish success

By Scott French

Galaxy forward Robbie Keane will be in glorious spirits when he returns Wednesday from Dublin, where Ireland is celebrating after claiming their first European Championship berth since 1998.

Keane played until the 67th minute for Ireland, which advanced to next year's championship in Poland and the Ukraine with a 5-1 aggregate victory over Estonia following a 1-1 draw in Tuesday's second leg.

Keane, who scored twice in Ireland's 4-0 win in Friday's first leg in Tallinn, is scheduled to join the Galaxy's preparations Thursday for the MLS Cup final against Houston on Sunday at Home Depot Center.

“It’s a great night for everyone, for the players and the fans -- a night that we’ll never forget,” Keane, the Irish captain, told media in Dublin. “The team spirit has got us through this campaign, and full credit to everyone in this group. This is what football is all about, moments like this.”

Galaxy coach Bruce Arena had asked Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni to release Keane following Friday's victory, which gave the Irish an overwhelming advantage in the series. Keane and Trapattoni resisted -- Arena said Monday they were correct, that Keane should remain with his national team -- and Arena pleaded that Keane's minutes be limited.

Croatia, the Czech Republic and Portugal on Tuesday also completed playoff victories to qualify for Euro 2012.

The full field (draw Dec. 2 in Kiev):

Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
England
France
Germany
Greece
Ireland
Italy
Netherlands
Poland
Portugal
Russia
Spain
Sweden
Ukraine