AFTER a heroic effort that left him with blood on his face and a number written in marker on his shirt, Richard Dunne was justifiably "proud" of Ireland's performance at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow last night.
The Aston Villa defender battled in the face of a Russian onslaught from the first whistle and, along with Villa team-mate Shay Given, was largely responsible for keeping Ireland's qualification hopes alive.
"We probably weren't fancied to get anything here," said Dunne afterwards. "Everyone from front to back did a job. It gives us something to build on and hopefully keeps us in the competition."
The only blot on Dunne's evening was a yellow card after a tackle on Yuri Zhirkov in which he suffered the gash to his face and a caution, which means he misses Ireland's game against Andorra next month.
However, while Giovanni Trapattoni could arguably do without his central defender against the group's whipping boys, there was little chance his team would have earned anything from yesterday's game without Dunne's heroics.
"It was a tough game," added the former Manchester City defender, who turns 32 in a fortnight's time.
"We knew we had to come here and try and put in something similar to what we did in Paris (in the World Cup play-off against France).
"The second half was quite tough. The (plastic) pitch is so fast and you have to be on your toes.
"But we knuckled down and put in a performance we can be proud of."