06 September, 2011

Ireland somehow hold on to take Euro qualification to the final game in Dublin:

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Dunne regularly repelled Russia to rescue a precious point
Russia had more shots on goal than any side in these qualifiers but a Paul McGrath type performance kept them out

            The Republic of Ireland somehow held on for their first ever competitive point in Moscow to keep European Qualification Group B very much alive and it will be decided now on the final day with all still to play for. 
            Russia outclassed Ireland physically, athletically, technically and tactically, but due to remarkable defending (from Richard Dunne and goalkeeper Shay Given in particular);  Ireland somehow held on when a 4-0 scoreline would not have flattered the home side.  Provided that Ireland beat Andorra; the Group goes to the wire, with a victory against Andorra in Dublin on October 11th guaranteeing a play-off berth for the Irish.
McGeady: used mainly defensively and here keeps Arshavin at bay
            In his post match interview; Man of the Match Richard Dunne was asked:  "Is it the busiest you've ever been at the back in an Ireland shirt?"  and it was a question which could only really be answered with one word: "Yes."  Time and time again, Dunne headed balls away, blocked shots and put his body on the line to keep Russia at bay.  One intervention in particular just before half-time where Dunne somehow got back to scuff away a goal bound effort on his own goal-line was particularly memorable.
Fabulous late Given save salvages point for Ireland
            The statistics from the game reveal a lot;  Russia had 26 efforts on goal to Ireland's 4 with the Russians enjoying 64% of possession.  Somehow however, the most important statistic of all remained blank.  This means that Ireland are very much in control of their own destiny going into the final two group games and could even secure qualification at home for the first time ever with three points on the final day.
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