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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

Lokomotiv Stadium (ATT 12,000) 7th September 2012 - Kick off 16:00 Ref: A Mateu Lahoz

Russia Russia vs Northern Ireland N Ireland

Russia 2

V Fayzulin (30)
R Shirokov (pen 78)

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Moscow misery for N.Ireland

Fayzulin and Shirokov condemn O'Neill's men to defeat

Last Updated: 07/09/12 9:53pm

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Northern Ireland made a losing start to their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign as they suffered a 2-0 defeat by Fabio Capello's Russia in Moscow.

Viktor Fayzulin's first-half goal and Roman Shirokov's 78th minute hotly-disputed penalty sunk Michael O'Neill's team in this Group F opener.

And the loss, which was always going to be a tough first fixture, means Northern Ireland are already under pressure as they prepare to host Luxembourg on Tuesday in Belfast.

O'Neill made a couple of big calls in his team selection, handing 34-year-old goalkeeper Roy Carroll a first competitive start for six years - and confirming the demotion of previous No.1 Lee Camp in the process.

He also opted to leave Dean Shiels on the bench in favour of Jamie Ward despite man-of-the-match performances in his last two appearances.

Northern Ireland started, as expected, by packing the midfield area and leaving Kyle Lafferty to forage for long balls in attack.

Chris Brunt was the notional support man but Sion striker Lafferty looked content with his solo task and dispossessed Vasily Berezutsky in the final third after only four minutes.

He was unable to pick out Ward with the cross but it raised the spirits of a travelling contingent numbering around 200.

Alexander Kerzhakov, whose pre-match assessment of Northern Ireland caused a minor stir, had the first shot of the match soon but could not test Carroll from the edge of the area.

Russia came again and a neat first touch from Alan Dzagoev gave Kerzhakov a second chance but this time he made a poor connection.

Tireless

The ball continued to follow the Zenit St Petersburg forward and in the 18th minute he had his best chance yet.

Vladimir Bystrov touched the ball on to leave him eight yards from goal with the defence wrong-footed. But instead of striking early he took an extra touch and still managed to screw the shot wide.

The visitors responded with a hard-earned corner which Gareth McAuley nodded just off target.

The home side were having the lion's share of the ball but were let down too often by poor final passes.

McAuley, meanwhile, was putting in a tireless shift of clearances and interceptions. Yet after half-an-hour Russia broke the deadlock.

Bystrov unlocked the defence with a carefully-weighted pass, Kerzhakov centred the ball from the edge of the penalty box and the onrushing Fayzulin sent a first-time effort into the top corner.

Shirokov almost put Russia two in front four minutes later only for Carroll to save well with his feet at the near post.

By now Russia were controlling possession with calmer heads, the goal having settled them.

Northern Ireland had further cause for concern on the stroke of half-time when Jonny Evans appeared to injure himself volleying a dead ball into the stands.

The Manchester United defender emerged after half-time, ruling out any serious injury concern, but did not appear to moving with complete comfort.

Foothold

The second half began in flat fashion, briefly brought to life when Berezutsky headed Dmitry Kombarov's 54th minute corner just wide of the far post.

Northern Ireland were struggling for a foothold in the game, with Lafferty increasingly isolated and visibly frustrated.

Bystrov almost enticed a penalty out of Cathcart when he surged into the box from the right flank but instead opted to stay on his feet and look for Kerzhakov. Evans was alert to the danger and beat his man to the ball.

With an hour gone neither side appeared desperate to shift the momentum of the game, with Northern Ireland seemingly content to leave their pursuit of an equaliser to the last minute.

For their part, Russia were struggling to create any meaningful attacks. Bystrov injected some life into proceedings with a jinking run towards goal, ended when Corry Evans tripped him a yard outside the area.

That gave Kerzhakov the chance to try his luck from an inviting position and he was close to doubling the lead, crashing his shot against the post.

With just under quarter-of-an-hour left Russia were awarded the softest of penalties, Alexander Kokorin going down under minimal contact from Craig Cathcart.

Northern Ireland were furious, not least when Cathcart was booked but that did not stop Shirokov rolling home the spot-kick.

Northern Ireland were rightly denied a penalty of their own in the closing moments when McAuley called for handball, more in hope than expectation.

Andy Little and, belatedly, Shiels were summoned from the bench but the Rangers pair had no real chance to affect the game.

RussiaTeam StatisticsNorthern Ireland
2Goals0
11st Half Goals0
6Shots on Target2
5Shots off Target1
3Blocked Shots1
2Corners3
6Fouls12
3Offsides7
1Yellow Cards3
0Red Cards0
83.9Passing Success63.6
22Tackles17
77.3Tackles Success58.8
69.1Possession30.9
50.3Territorial Advantage49.7
670Total Passes283
11Total Crosses11
164Lost Balls164
58Recoveries66
69.61st Half Poss.30.4
71.12nd Half Poss.28.9

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Matches

  • FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

    Fri 7th Sep - Group F
    Fri 7th Sep - Group C
    • Kazakhstan
      1 - 2
      Rep Ireland
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    • Germany
      3 - 0
      Faroe Islands
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    Fri 7th Sep - Group G
    Fri 7th Sep - Group I
    Fri 7th Sep - Group B
    Fri 7th Sep - Group D
    Fri 7th Sep - Group A
    Fri 7th Sep - Group E
    Fri 7th Sep - Group H

Tables

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Belgium 10 26
2 Croatia 10 17
3 Serbia 10 14
4 Scotland 10 11
5 Wales 10 10
6 Macedonia 10 7

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Italy 10 22
2 Denmark 10 16
3 Czech Republic 10 15
4 Bulgaria 10 13
5 Armenia 10 13
6 Malta 10 3

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Germany 10 28
2 Sweden 10 20
3 Austria 10 17
4 Republic of Ireland 10 14
5 Kazakhstan 10 5
6 Faroe Islands 10 1

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Netherlands 10 28
2 Romania 10 19
3 Hungary 10 17
4 Turkey 10 16
5 Estonia 10 7
6 Andorra 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Switzerland 10 24
2 Iceland 10 17
3 Slovenia 10 15
4 Norway 10 12
5 Albania 10 11
6 Cyprus 10 5

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Russia 10 22
2 Portugal 10 21
3 Israel 10 14
4 Azerbaijan 10 9
5 Northern Ireland 10 7
6 Luxembourg 10 6

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bosnia 10 25
2 Greece 10 25
3 Slovakia 10 13
4 Lithuania 10 11
5 Latvia 10 8
6 Liechtenstein 10 2

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 England 10 22
2 Ukraine 10 21
3 Montenegro 10 15
4 Poland 10 13
5 Moldova 10 11
6 San Marino 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Spain 8 20
2 France 8 17
3 Finland 8 9
4 Georgia 8 5
5 Belarus 8 4

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