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Defender Richard Dunne praised a "world class performance" from goalkeeper Shay Given, as the Republic of Ireland came away from Moscow with a goalless draw.
The Irish defence had to endure sustained periods of pressure from a Russian side who produced one of their best performances under Dick Advocaat, but were unable to find any way past the Aston Villa FC goalkeeper, who was making his 116th international appearance.
"Shay's one of the best goalkeepers in the world and you always know you can rely on him," said Dunne, of the man that followed him from Manchester City FC to Aston Villa this summer. "Tonight, when he was called upon, he came up with some great saves and as a team we should be really pleased with the way we played."
Russia could, and perhaps should, have gone into the interval with a healthy advantage but even during a second half dominated by Advocaat's charges, wasteful finishing and the brilliance of Given – whose most impressive stop came with two minutes to go to deny Konstantin Zyryanov's goal-bound header – kept them at bay.
"I just about got my knee down to block it," said Given. "He was pretty close, but in situations like that it's all about standing your ground and luckily enough I did that, as it was very close to going through my legs. But it's not all just about me; the whole back four were excellent and we defended very well."
From the outset, a rejuvenated Andrey Arshavin threatened to halt Giovanni Trapattoni's side's run of six consecutive clean sheets in all competitions. The Russia captain was his side's main creative influence but could only lament his side's profligacy.
"We just didn't show enough composure in front of goal," said the Arsenal FC forward. "Had we shown it then the ball would have gone into the back of the net, rather than finding the goalkeeper or being blocked by a last-ditch tackle."
The result leaves Group B wide open with Ireland, Russia, Armenia and Slovakia all in with a chance of automatic qualification. Russia travel to Bratislava on 7 October and Arshavin believes his side still have every chance of winning the section. "We will be going to Slovakia to win," he said. "Of course, there will be nerves, as there were today, but if we play at the high standard that we are usually do, then the harder the situation, the better it is for us."
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