Russia produced an impressive road performance to beat the Republic of Ireland in Dublin. Russia raced out to a three goal lead with Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Alan Dzagoev and roman Shirokov all on the score sheet. The Republic produced a brave fight back as a Robbie Keane penalty and a Shane Long goal gave them hope, but Russia were able to hang onto a vital three points.
Ireland started well and almost took the lead when Robbie Keane chipped against the crossbar, the Republic were punished for the miss moments later when Russia scored to take a 1-0 lead. Andrey Arshavin had his free kick saved by Shay Given, but an alert Sergei Ignashevich squared the ball across goal for Kerzhakov ro roll home a deflected shot.
Russia doubled their lead before the half hour mark when Aleksandr Anyukov raced clear and pulled the ball back for Dzagoev to score with a neat finish.
The Republic will have been disappointed to go into half time trailing, but things got warse only five minutes into the second period. Shirokov hit a speculative long range strike which took a huge deflection to wrong foot Given and roll into the bottom corner.
Rather than fold, the Republic battled bravely and reduced the arrears in the 72nd minute when Robbie Keane was fouled in the area by Yuri Zhirkov. The Tottenham striker got up to score the penalty and give the Irish hope. In the 80th minute hopes were raised further when Spartak Moscow winger Aiden McGeady had his shot saved and Long tucked away the rebound to set up a dramatic finale.
Russia defended well to hang on to a precious victory. The results leaves both teams locked in a three way tie for top spot in Group B with Slovakia.