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Played
September 7, 2012 4:00 PM BST
Stadion Lokomotiv — Moskva
Referee:‬ Antonio Mateu‎
Attendance:‬ 14300‎
 
 
78′ (PG) Roman Shirokov
 

Russia - Northern Ireland Preview: O'Neill faces tough start against Capello's men

The two sides face each other in a competitive international for the first time as they both kick-off their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign in Moscow with the hosts favourites

By Nicholas McGee

Rep of Ireland Northern Ireland May 2011
Sportsfile
  PROBABLE LINEUPS


RUSSIA


Akinfeev
Anyukov, Ignashevich, V.B'skiy, A.B'skiy
Glushakov, Denisov,
Bystrov, Dzagoev
, Bilyaletdinov,
Kerzhakov

NORTHERN IRELAND

Carroll
Hughes, McAuley, Evans, McGivern
Norwood, Davis, Baird, Brunt
Lafferty, Shiels


Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill goes into his first competitive international with three of his squad unavailable through injury. Newcastle left-back Shane Ferguson (groin), Martin Paterson (hamstring) both miss out, while Celtic midfielder Paddy McCourt (groin) looks set to miss the trip to Moscow and Tuesday's clash with Luxembourg.

Russia manager Fabio Capello has made a number of changes ahead of the contest, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Andrey Arshavin have both been left out, as has Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak. Yuri Zhirkov and Sergei Semak were both omitted due to injuries.


  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Northern Ireland and Russia have never faced each other in a competitive international.
  • Northern Ireland have only ever qualified for the finals of a World Cup on two occasions, in 1982 and again in 1986.
  • Billy Bingham's men advanced to the second group stage in '82 before being knocked out. However, they could not repeat the feat in Mexico four years later as they fell at the first hurdle.
  • Since that point Northern Ireland have never finished higher than fourth in a World Cup qualification group.
  • Fabio Capello (pictured right) takes charge of his first competitive game as Russia boss on Friday and takes over from Dick Advocaat.
  • The Russians have only qualified twice for the World Cup since the fall of the Soviet Union, in 1994 and in 2002. On both occasions they were eliminated in the group stage.
  • Following the omission of Arshavin, every player in the Russian squad now plies their trade in the Russian Premier League.
  • Russia striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov has not scored a competitive goal for his country since October 2010.
  • Russia have lost just four of their last 20 competitive internationals.


Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Head to Head
World Cup Qualification 2014 (Europe) ‎(WCQE)‎ 14 Aug 2013 Northern Ireland 1 - Russia 0
  • Player Ratings
  • Match Report
  • Play by Play
  • Preview
World Cup Qualification 2014 (Europe) ‎(WCQE)‎ 7 Sep 2012 Russia 2 - Northern Ireland 0
  • Player Ratings
  • Match Report
  • Play by Play
  • Preview
Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
25Roy CarrollGoalkeeper
18Aaron HughesDefender
5Chris BairdDefender
3Craig CathcartDefender
22Gareth McAuleyDefender
-Jonny EvansDefender
11Chris BruntMidfielder
8Corry EvansMidfielder
6Steven DavisMidfielder
-Jamie WardStriker
14Kyle LaffertyStriker
12Alan MannusGoalkeeper
-Lee Camp
17Lee HodsonDefender
23Ryan McGivernDefender
14Oliver NorwoodMidfielder
-Josh CarsonMidfielder
4Sammy ClinganMidfielder
13Andrew LittleStriker
-William GriggStriker
-Dean ShielsStriker
Players to Watch
Alan Dzagoev
Alan Dzagoev
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 17
Games Goals YC RC
4 0 0 0
The one positive aspect of Russia's group stage exit at Euro 2012 was the form of Alan Dzagoev. The Zenit St Petersburg man enjoyed a superb tournament, netting three goals in three games.

The impetus will be on Dzagoev to deliver again for his country as they try to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 2002. The 22-year-old Dzagoev has six goals in his last six competitive internationals, and visitors Northern Ireland will have to stop the attacking midfielder if they are to have any chance of picking up a good result in Moscow.
Chris Brunt
Chris Brunt
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 11
Games Goals YC RC
7 0 4 1
The West Brom midfielder is often a key man for the West Midlands' club and has produced a number of match-winning displays for the Baggies in recent years.

Brunt will be hoping to re-produce his club form for Northern Ireland, as they attempt to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 26 years. The 27-year-old has scored just one goal in 36 appearances for his country, but his attacking prowess and creative presence could prove vital if the visitors are to pull off a surprise result.

Many will expect Michael O'Neill's men to have to defend from the outset, however the travelling fans will look to the likes of Brunt, and first-choice striker Kyle Lafferty to deliver and make their first competitive trip to Russia a successful one.
Prediction
Russia are without doubt, the overwhelming favourites, and in front of a home crowd they will be expected to cruise to victory. However, Northern Ireland are a side blessed with an abundance of resiliency and spirit, and they will look to make life difficult for Capello's men. Alan Dzagoev is Russia's main goalscoring threat, and if O'Neill's side can frustrate him then they should have a good chance of taking a point from a very difficult away trip.
Editor's Prediction
Russia 0
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