Robbie Keane has come to the rescue for the Republic of Ireland with a late equaliser against ten-man Italy at the San Nicola Stadium.

Vincenzo Iaquinta opened the scoring for the reigning World champions in the 11th minute despite having Giampaolo Pazzini sent off by referee Wolfgang Stark just six minutes earlier.

It looked as though the Azzurri would take all three points and extend their lead at the top of Group Eight but Tottenham striker Keane kept his nation's chance of automatic qualification alive.

In the 87th minute, Keane stabbed home past Gianluigi Buffon to give Ireland a point and keep them well clear of Bulgaria in second spot.