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THE FEAR beforehand was that Jack Charlton's greenhorns would become impaled on their own international inexperience yet, in the event, the Republic of Ireland lost nothing and gained plenty from yesterday's friendly at Lansdowne Road, the starting point for their World Cup preparations.
On a grey and windswept afternoon, the glow of an American summer beckoned most strongly for Jason McAteer and Gary Kelly, who won their first caps and emphatically played their way into Charlton's plans.
That there was not a goal to round off a performance that began surprisingly well before fading into Ireland's first scoreless draw in Dublin for three years was disappointing, in view of their first-half stranglehold. However, the result was not altogether the point and, anxious at the start, their manager confessed to feeling 'delighted' afterwards.
'I learned that I have a terrific young full-back (Kelly) and a gifted right midfield player (McAteer) and two centre-backs I can rely on to do a job,' Charlton said.
The Republic's youngsters quickly established an easy understanding, which made the right flank a profitable avenue. From one such combination, Kelly's centre fell to Tony Cascarino, but the finish gave his Chelsea colleague, Dimitri Kharin, the opportunity to save.
The goalkeeper was beaten by Liam O'Brien's free-kick, which curled onto the woodwork, where he also pushed a dangerous corner from the third debutant, Phil Babb. Russia, also World Cup-bound, offered only brief hints of their quality on the break.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (4-4-2): Bonner (Celtic); G Kelly (Leeds), Carey (Leicester), Babb (Coventry), McGoldrick (Arsenal); McAteer (Bolton), Whelan (Liverpool), O'Brien (Tranmere), McLoughlin (Portsmouth); D Kelly (Wolves), Cascarino (Chelsea). Substitutes: A Kelly (Sheffield United) for Bonner, h-t; Coyne (Motherwell) for D Kelly, 65.
RUSSIA (1-4-4-1): Kharin (Chelsea); Rakhimov (Lokomotiv Moscow); Tetradze (Dynamo Moscow), Gorlukovich (Bayer Uerdingen), Kulkov (Benfica), Khlestov (Spartak Moscow); Popov (Santander), Borodyuk (Freiburg), Korneyev (Espanol), Radchenko (Santander); Salenko (Logrones). Substitutes: Cheryshov (Dynamo Moscow) for Korneyev, 60; Kosolopov (Lokomotiv Moscow) for Radchenko, 88.
Referee: C Fallstrom (Sweden).Reuse content