Fans salvage a little pride ...but not much else from big night
IN the end, a little bit of pride was all Ireland could salvage. But downcast football fans have far from given up hope of qualifying for Euro 2012.
A quick look at our Group B table following last night's defeat shows Ireland still leading the way. However, the journey to the finals has got that bit harder.
Giovanni Trapattoni's men felt the backlash from a wounded Russian side which deservedly won 3-2 at the Aviva Stadium.
The mood leaving the ground was in stark contrast to the pre-match carnival atmosphere.
One fan, Alan Gregory (37), summed it up when he told the Herald the Irish team showed "far too much respect" to the Russians. "It was only in the last 20 minutes that there was any urgency," said Alan, from Drogheda, Co Louth.
Striker Robbie Keane won a penalty in the 72nd minute and then scored from the spot. Replays showed there was precious little contact between Keane and the defender.
Alan reckoned it was "a sympathy vote" on the part of the referee.
"Ireland didn't rise to the occasion. It was very disappointing. But we're still not out of it. Slovakia were beaten (by Armenia). We'll have to play a lot better (against Slovakia) on Tuesday to get a result," he said. Mark Day (33), from Kildare, said the Russians, coached by Dutchman Dick Advocaat, were a technically better team.
"They were way too strong. There was a huge difference between the teams. We had too many weaknesses and they were exposed," he said. Mark diplomatically described the penalty award as "slightly fortuitous". "Russia were by far the better team. I suppose it was the backlash from their defeat against Slovakia," he said, referring to Russia's 1-0 loss to Slovakia last month.
Before Russia's first goal, the home crowd cheered wildly while Ireland exerted early pressure.
Thunderous roars went up from the stands. At Croke Park, the cheers used to disappear harmlessly into the air, but not at the Aviva. Alas, Russia were took quick, too clever and two up by half-time and in a 3-0 shortly after the break. At that stage, you'd have got better odds on Fianna Fail winning the next election than Ireland getting anything from the game.
Then came Robbie's penalty and that was followed by a Shane Long goal, leaving us tantalisingly close to snatching a draw. However, it was not to be and now we must pick ourselves up for Tuesday's away game against Slovakia. Come on you boys in green!