Sunday 21 January 2018

the game at a glance

Richard Dunne's performance contained the determination of Paul McGrath, the indomitable spirit of Charlie Hurley and the warrior's courage of Kevin Moran. Without him, Ireland's goose was truly cooked. Shay Given will jostle for the award thanks to a hat-trick of saves.

Talking point

Ireland's defensive resistance will be acclaimed but in terms of the pre-match stated ambition of being determined to eke out a victory, this was rendered redundant by an approach void of any desire to attack.

Ref watch

German referee Felix Brych, who refereed the first leg of Ireland's fateful play-off with France ahead of the 2010 World Cup, had little option but to book Dunne after his tackle on Zhirkov. No contentious decisions to be made.

Crowd watch

Around 700 Irish fans braved the trek and were mostly silenced by the large Russian faithful. FAI chief executive John Delaney, a relieved man, immersed himself amongst the green army and threw them his tie.

And finally...

Shay Given, in his 69th competitive game, maintained his remarkable record of only conceding more than two goals on two occasions -- this blank ensured that the Russians didn't manage the feat for a third time.

Match statistics

Yellow cards: Ireland 3 (Dunne 74, Ward 78, Hunt 90), Russia 1 (Anuykov 47)

Shots on target: Russia 8, Ireland 1. Shots off target: Russia 18, Ireland 1.

Corners: Russia 12, Ireland 1

Possession: Russia 63pc, Ireland 37pc

Attendance: 49,567

Irish Independent

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