Saturday 18 November 2017

The game at a glance

Man of the match

Roman Shirokov

While Ireland's late comeback made for a tense finish, there's no doubting the fact that the Russians dominated the game for the most part. The Zenit St Petersburg man was at the centre of everything, bossing the midfield and snatching the third goal -- even if it was fortunate -- and justifying Dick Advocaat's decision to bring the 29-year-old back after a spell out of international football.

Talking point

Time and time again we hear that stern organisation is Trapattoni's way and our biggest asset. But if that's the case, how was Sergey Ignashevich given the freedom of the box for the opening goal, with three Irish defenders left resembling green-clad mannequins? And why such a long wait for the creative influences that so dramatically turned this game around? A shocking indictment of the Italian's regime and his legacy, three years into a €1.8m-a-year contract.

Referee watch

Kevin Blom drew ire from the home crowd in the first half, but gave Ireland a soft penalty in the second. Could we have had another in the dying moments?

Crowd watch

There was nothing more the home crowd could do at a crackling Aviva Stadium as they turned the venue into exactly the kind of cauldron the Boys in Green were asking for in the build-up. The opening whistle was barely audible thanks to the fervent fans and they were fully reawakened for the captivating, high-octane finish.

and finally . . .

Early birds leave the nest -- we haven't had an entertaining finish like that in Dublin for a long time and those who departed with a half-hour to go must be regretting their decision this morning, if they're not already busy catching up on the highlights.

Match stats

Yellow cards: Ireland 2; Russia 3

Red cards: Ireland 0; Russia 0

Shots on target: Ireland 5; Russia 4

Shots off target: Ireland 3; Russia 9

Corners: Ireland 1; Russia 5

Possession: Ireland 35pc; Russia 65pc

Official attendance: 50,411

Irish Independent

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