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Trapattoni's army arrives to find Russia nursing massive hangover

MOSCOW woke up to the mother of all hangovers this morning -- and Irish fans had nothing to do with it.

As the city gears up for tomorrow's crunch Euro qualifier against Russia, the small matter of Moscow Day took place yesterday.

Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets to celebrate, with more than a few casualties on the streets of the city this morning, teenagers who had one too many and ended up sleeping off the effects in bus shelters and doorways.

As the charter flight containing Giovanni Trapattoni and his Ireland team landed in the city at around 9.30pm local time last night, tens of thousands of locals swarmed around the Luzhniki Stadium -- host venue for the 2008 Champions League final, the 1980 Olympic Games and also tomorrow' night's match against Ireland for an open-air concert, celebrating Moscow's birthday.

The handful of Irish fans who were in the city yesterday were confused by the fuss and the crowds, the main concern for many of Trapattoni's army being the task of finding an Irish pub that was showing the All-Ireland hurling final.

The FAI confirmed to the Herald in Moscow this morning that just 700 tickets have been issued to Irish fans.

Local interest in the game has been muted so far, as just over 30,000 punters paid in to see Russia's very important 1-0 win over Macedonia on Friday night, well below the stadium's capacity of 70,000.

Even the local media are slow to take up interest in the game -- Sovietski Sport, a popular tabloid daily, devotes most of its coverage to the success of Russian athletes at the World Championships in Korea, where the Russians have taken 19 medals.