The Taoiseach has congratulated Mick McCarthy and the Irish soccer squad for qualifying for the World Cup. Bertie Ahern paid tribute to the team's performance today, although he admitted that before the tie, he had been concerned that their two-goal margin going to Tehran might not have been enough.

The Republic of Ireland earned a place in the World Cup finals in 2002 after home and away matches against Iran. Ireland emerged triumphant with a 2-1 aggregate win.

The team, playing without captain Roy Keane, was defending a 2-0 first leg lead in front of an estimated crowd of 120,000 people at the Azadi stadium in Tehran.

Today's game was a nil-all draw until the last minute, when a header from Iranian Yahya Golmohammadi finally got the best of Irish goalkeeper Shay Given.

Given kept Iran scoreless until the last minute via a series of brilliant saves. The victory caps off a very successful World Cup campaign for Ireland. Out of twelve games, the side was beaten only once, and can now look forward to Japan and South Korea in 2002.

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