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Russia thwarted by obdurate Ireland

Russia 0-0 Republic of Ireland
Group B remains wide open after a dominant Russia were thwarted by profligate finishing and Giovanni Trapattoni's stubborn visiting defence.

Russia thwarted by obdurate Ireland
Russia thwarted by obdurate Ireland ©UEFA.com

Group B remains wide open after a dogged defensive performance by the Republic of Ireland secured a goalless draw against a Russia side whose inability to convert several presentable opportunities cost them dear.

Russia could have quite comfortably wrapped the match up inside the first 45 minutes, but for all their intricate link-up play, lacked the final product. Giovanni Trapattoni's side were at times their own worst enemy, allowing their hosts too much time and space in the attacking third, but an outstanding defensive display helped secure an unlikely point.

Ireland arrived in Moscow on a run of six clean sheets in all competitions and were indebted to Shay Given for extending that sequence, the Aston Villa FC goalkeeper first denying Andrey Arshavin's goalbound effort on eight minutes, before flinging himself to his right to deny Igor Semshov.

The Russians were rampant, with Yuri Zhirkov and Arshavin finding the time and space to construct attack after attack. The best of these came on 33 minutes when the impressive Zhirkov, playing in an advanced role on the left, cut into the area before picking out Semshov.

The unmarked FC Dinamo Moskva midfielder looked certain to score for the second time in four days, but Richard Dunne cleared the ball off the line at full stretch to keep the scores level at half-time, despite Dick Advocaat's side's 13 goal attempts to Ireland's one.

Russia continued to dominate following the resumption, the visiting defence struggling to contend with the pace of Arshavin, who also picked out Semshov. However, with a clear sight on the goal, the 33-year-old sought out Roman Pavlyuchenko rather than take the shot on himself.

The hosts pushed forward late on and Konstantin Zyryanov must have thought he had sealed all three points, only for his diving header to be kept out by the legs of Given. The goalless draw leaves Russia two points clear of Ireland at the top of Group B ahead of their trip to Slovakia, a further point adrift, on 7 October. The Irish go to Andorra on the same date.