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Russia 0-0 Republic of Ireland

Updated: Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 18:21 | Comments

Emma Byrne was the hero for Ireland as they secured a draw in Russia
Emma Byrne was the hero for Ireland as they secured a draw in Russia

Keeper Emma Byrne was the hero as the Republic of Ireland's women kept their faint hopes of World Cup qualification alive with a 0-0 draw in Russia.

Ireland ended the Russians five-match winning run in the competition and it was also the first time Russia had dropped points at home in qualifying as the Irish showed that their performance, and the result, when the sides met last month in Tallaght Stadium was very much a blip.

Manager Sue Ronan was full of praise for her side after another excellent result against a team ranked higher them in the FIFA World Rankings.

“The team were magnificent,” said Ronan after the game. “They were very disciplined and stuck to the task from beginning to end.

"They completely stopped the Russian midfield from building attacks and then backed it up by producing some good periods of possession of their own, during which we created some excellent chances including the best one of the game.”

Having conceded two goals in the opening ten minutes in Dublin last month, the Irish were much more solid this time around and although Russia enjoyed the bulk of the first half possession they rarely found a way through the Irish defence.

It wasn’t until just before half-time that Emma Byrne was seriously troubled when she had to push a header by Nelli Korovkina, from a corner by Olga Petrova, around her left-hand post.

By then her opposite number Elvira Todua had been busy as she twice saved shots from Fiona O’Sullivan and twice came off her line to save at the feet of Denise O’Sullivan as the Irish always looked dangerous on the break. 

Todua also watched in relief as a Julie-Ann Russell shot whizzed over her crossbar.

Indeed, Ireland should have gone in ahead at the break after Stephanie Roche set-up up Fiona O’Sullivan with a superb pass but the striker saw her well-struck effort from 12 yards blocked by the legs of Todua on the stroke of half-time.

The second half was just as cagey as the first with chances few and far between although Ireland enjoyed some good possession and should have had a penalty when Diane Caldwell was hauled down just inside the box by Ksenia Tsybutovich but the referee waved play-off before booking Fiona O’Sullivan for dissent as the Irish appealed in vain for the spot-kick.

“I think we proved a point to ourselves and the opposition that we are a good team and that the performance last month in Dublin was a once off. " - Sue Ronan

Skipper Byrne, making her 109th appearance, ensured a second consecutive clean sheet for Ireland by pulling off another excellent stop in the 89th minute to keep out a shot from Alla Sidorovskaya.

“We definitely should have had a penalty when Diane Caldwell was pulled down and there was another incident on the edge of their box when Aine O’Gorman was pushed in the back that also went unpunished," said Ronan. 

As the game wore on the girls really believed it was there for the taking and they were pushing forward all the time looking to create chances,” said Ronan who felt the performance and the result buried the disappointment of last month’s 3-1 defeat by the Russians.

“I think we proved a point to ourselves and the opposition that we are a good team and that the performance last month in Dublin was a once off.

"It was nice to keep a second successive clean-sheet and it was the first time in 15 months that we failed to score although we did create some good chances.

"The fact that the girls were disappointed in the dressing room that they didn’t win says it all for me. It’s never easy in any sport to come to Russia and get anything so we have to be pleased with the point.”

The result consolidates Ireland’s position in third place in Group 1 behind Germany and Russia, with Slovenia due to visit Dublin in August prior to the campaign finishing with a double-header away to Slovakia and Germany in September.

Republic of Ireland: Emma Byrne; Aine O’Gorman, Louise Quinn, Niamh Fahey, Karen Duggan; Dora Gorman, Diane Caldwell; Julie-Ann Russell, Denise O’Sullivan, Stephanie Roche (Ruesha Littlejohn 69); Fiona O’Sullivan (Siobhan Killeen 89).

Russia: Elvira Todua; Ekaterina Dmitrenko, Ksenia Tsybutovich, Daria Makarenko, Elena Medved; Alla Sidorovskaya, Olga Petrova; Elena Tereknova (Alena Andreeva 77), Neilli Korovkina, Ekaterina Sochneva; Ekaterina Pantyukhina (Anna Cholovyaga 53).

Referee:  Teodora Albon (Romania).

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