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Despite going down 2-0 in Moscow, the defender has praised his side for their defensive display and believes they did a good job in stopping their opponents, ranked 13th by Fifa

Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley has praised his side’s efforts in stopping Russia’s attacking play despite their 2-0 defeat in Moscow in their first World Cup qualifier.

The Green and White Army lost in manager Michael O’Neill’s first competitive game in charge, but managed to prevent their opponents breaking into their territory too much in each half.

"We did what we wanted to do and that was frustrate," McAuley told Sky Sports.

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"We had a lot of our senior players back for this match and there are lots of caps at this level from throughout the team.

"The pressure was on us to be better with the ball this time but we knew they were a top side and would have a lot of the ball.

"But we annoyed them and we could have had a goal ourselves."

McAuley was also heavily involved in his side’s attacking play, twice heading over from Chris Brunt crosses, and believes there is a good understanding between himself and his West Brom club-mate.

He added: "Brunty and I have talked about doing what we did at the club - his corner and my header.
 
"We had talked about how small a side they generally are and we just agreed in situations like that we would go for it."

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