“Free spirit” Callum Robinson scored a brace in Ireland’s 3-0 World Cup qualifier victory in Baku – then said his overriding feeling was delight that Stephen Kenny’s squad was going home with a “big W”.
Robinson scored two first half goals to put Kenny’s side in pole position, and Chiedozie Ogbene’s late header finished off Azerbaijan to ensure a first competitive win under Kenny – and only the second win over his 17-game reign.
Robinson wasn’t asked in the post-match RTE interview about being the centre of controversy this week – after he admitted on Tuesday that, despite twice testing positive for Covid, he was among a number of players in the Ireland squad who had not been vaccinated.
It seemed strange that the matter wasn’t addressed by the 26-year-old given that Robinson ran to the 300 Ireland fans in the stadium with his fingers in his ears after scoring both of his goals.
“Yeah, it’s obviously not nice not getting wins for all of us, not just the manager, the coaching staff, all the staff behind the scenes, all the lads, we want to be winning games,” said Robinson, who was named man of the match.
“I said that the other day and hopefully now we can build on this.
“Obviously we have a friendly on Tuesday night (against Qatar) but the way we’ve been playing, we’ve been playing well, we’ve probably played sometimes better than that in other games but we got the result today and I think that’s all that mattered tonight.”
The West Brom striker, who had scored one goal at international level before tonight, had chances to complete a hat-trick.
“Yeah, that one’s going to hurt for a while, that I didn’t get the hat-trick in the end,” he admitted.
“Some good saves from the keeper, took a shot on my right foot and then obviously the header could have made it the perfect hat-trick.
“But yeah, happy first of all to get the win, goals come second. It was obviously nice to get on the scoresheet as well.
“The main thing is that we’ll be on the plane on the way home with a big W.”
His first goal, in the seven minute, was a superbly-constructed one, and Robinson’s finish was sweetly-struck from the edge of the Azeri box.
“Yeah, we’ve been working in training a lot in them pockets and I got there, it was early enough in the game,” he said.
“So I just thought, ‘get an early shot off’ – a quick snap-shot to get the keeper off-guard – and luckily I did and it was nice to get that goal.
“Like I said in interviews before when people ask me what’s my best position in the frontline.
“But I just like being a free spirit almost, I enjoy getting on the ball, just being a threat, trying to score, assist, get on the half-turn on one v ones.
“I’m lucky enough that the gaffer gave me half that licence today to do that in the game and be a free spirit.”
Robinson almost got a touch on Ogbene’s header in second half injury time but the latter was delighted for his colleague.
“I tried to rob it off him to get the half-trick but no, I’m really happy for him, he’s got so much energy and he deserved that tonight, and congratulations to him,” Robinson smiled.
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