Football

Trapattoni upbeat over progression

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Giovanni Trapattoni is confident the Republic of Ireland's hopes of Euro 2012 qualification remain alive after a battling draw in Russia.

The Russians relentlessly bombarded the Ireland goal throughout an energy-sapping 90 minutes on the plastic pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium, but simply could not find a way past Shay Given and Richard Dunne.

Dick Advocaat's men now face a difficult trip to Slovakia next month, while Ireland head into their final two clashes with Andorra and Armenia still two points adrift, but confident that the race for the top of Group B remains very much alive - all the more so after Armenia's stunning 4-0 win in Slovakia. Trapattoni said: "There are two games to go and Russia have a very difficult game against Slovakia."

He added: "At this moment, I think all things are possible. There is not a sure result. We have the possibility in the next two games to win and with six points, I think we can believe in qualification."

Had it not been for Given and Dunne, Russia - and Ireland's lingering hopes of automatic qualification - might have been out of sight before the break. Given turned away shots from Andrey Arshavin and the impressive Igor Semshov and Dunne produced a stunning block to keep out Semshov's goalbound effort.

Dunne repeated the feat after the break to deny Roman Shirokov, but Given saved the best for last when he somehow managed to keep Konstantin Zyryanov's 88th-minute diving header out of his net to ensure a seventh successive clean sheet for his side.

Semshov was also guilty of squandering a glorious opportunity when he attempted to pass to substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko rather than shoot when in on goal, with the Spurs man simply not expecting to see the ball. Dunne ended the game with four stitches in a head wound after a no-holds-barred challenge on Yuri Zhirkov which cost him a booking and, as a result, his place in the squad for the Andorra game.

He was made to change his blood-stained shirt and with no number five jersey on the bench, goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly had to draw a new number on a plain one to the satisfaction of German referee Felix Brych.

Trapattoni said: "He [Dunne] was fantastic. I thank God that we had Richard in this game. He sacrificed himself because he went back on to the pitch with four stitches. He understood the need to stay on the pitch. Shay Given also saved two or three goals. They were fantastic saves."

Advocaat was at a loss to explain how his side had been so dominant, yet emerged with only a point to show for their efforts. He said: "We failed to score and with all respect, when you are playing against Ireland, they will work and do everything. But we have to go on. We can sit here feeling down, but we have to go on."

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Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Andrey Arshavin
Roman Pavlyuchenko
Football
Premier League
Shay Given
Yuri Zhirkov
Richard Dunne
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