Hero Given keeps Irish hopes alive

Midweek Sport - - TV GUIDE -

THE Irish rode their luck to stop Rus­sia scor­ing and grab a point that could yet see them reach the 2012 fi­nals.

It’s still tight in Group B and the Irish could still be squeezed out by Slo­vakia, but this was the Repub­lic’s sixth straight shut-out.

Keeper Shay Given pulled off a crack­ing early save to deny An­drey Ar­shavin, div­ing low to his left to turn the Ar­se­nal man’s long-ranger round a post.

It was all Rus­sia and Igor Semshov was right on the money with an ef­fort on the turn that bounced off the ar­ti­fi­cial sur­face and was go­ing to sneak in a cor­ner.

But Given was equal to the task again and threw him­self to his right to paw it away.

The As­ton Villa keeper fum­bled a much eas­ier ef­fort a cou­ple of min­utes later though and was re­lieved to see it bob­ble be­hind for a cor­ner rather than into the net.

The Irish were treat­ing the ball like it was a grenade with the pin out so it was no sur­prise that the Rus­sians kept on coming at them.


Richard Dunne was next to pro­duce a heroic mo­ment when he blocked Semshov’s shot on the line.

For­mer Chelsea man Yuri Zhirkov had danced past two men on the left of the box to set up the chance.

Given was beaten but Dunne flung his body in the way and Damien Duff hacked away the re­bound.

Still the Rus­sians piled on the pres­sure and Konstantin Zyryanov was only just wide with a long-ranger.

Zhirkov then hit a post with a cor­ner, Duff hacked a header off the line and the half-time whis­tle was a great re­lief to the Irish.

It was more of the same after the break though, with Dunne mak­ing an­other fine block to deny Ro­man Shi­rokov.

The Rus­sians sent on Spurs striker Ro­man Pav­lyuchenko be­fore the hour mark as Semshov fluffed a great chance to shoot in the box.

Ire­land had of­fered noth­ing at the other end and Rob­bie Keane was too slow to re­act when Si­mon Cox, on for Kevin Doyle, curled a de­cent ball to the back post.

Keane then headed harm­lessly over from a free-kick after Stephen Hunt re­placed Duff and Dunne was booked for a chal­lenge on Zhirkov that left both men need­ing treat­ment.

Rus­sia thought they had won it two min­utes from the end when Zyryanov slid in at the far post but Given some­how kept out his div­ing header.

REAL DEAL: Dren­the looked up to Snei­jder (left) at Madrid but now must im­press Ever­ton man­ager Moyes (bot­tom left)


BRAVE: Dunne

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