Northern Ireland’s Under-21s suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat against Russia in a Euro qualifier this evening.
Russian defender Danila Prokhin grabbed the only goal of the game as John Schofield’s side produced a battling performance in Khimki, just outside Moscow.
Numerous fouls were committed throughout the 90-plus minutes by Russia, who are the second seeds in U21 Euro 2023 Qualifying Group C behind Spain.
The first chance of the Group C encounter at Arena Khimki fell to Russia defender Ruslan Litvinov but his effort was off target.
Russian midfielder Konstantin Maradishvili had a shot blocked before the home side opened the scoring on 16 minutes when a Vladislav Karapuzov corner was headed on by Litvinov and Prokhin provided the finishing touch.
Five minutes later Northern Ireland keeper Ollie Webber pushed away a Karapuzov strike and then Maradishvili spurned an opportunity before striker Danil Prutsev missed the target.
Northern Ireland’s first clearcut chance came on 35 minutes, however defender Trai Hume’s effort drifted wide.
Moments later Webber was called into action again, this time saving a Konstantin Tyukavin snapshot, and just before the break he kept out a Litvinov header.
Just after the restart Northern Ireland defender Sam McClelland got on the end of a free-kick delivered by midfielder Ethan Galbraith but his header flew wide.
Down the other end Russia skipper Nail Umyarov steered a shot past the post, Tyukavin forced a save out of Webber and wing back Daniil Khlusevich missed a good opportunity.
In the closing stages Northern Ireland substitute John McGovern had a shot blocked and Schofield’s side were held at bay by a robust Russian team who committed 19 fouls during the match compared to just two by the visitors.
The result means Northern Ireland have three points from three matches in Group C. A disappointing 4-1 loss away to Malta in their first match was followed by a home 1-0 win against Slovakia last month.
Next up for Northern Ireland is another tough away assignment. They play Spain, the top seeds in the group, in Seville on Tuesday (12 October) with a 7.45pm kick-off UK time. The Spanish defeated Russia 4-1 last month.
Northern Ireland U21s: Ollie Webber, Sam McClelland, Kofi Balmer, Aaron Donnelly, Trai Hume, Jack Scott, Ethan Galbraith (captain), Alfie McCalmont, Paddy Lane, Ryan Waide, Chris Conn-Clarke. Substitutes: (used) Paul O’Neill, Caolan Boyd-Munce, John McGovern, Finn Cousin-Dawson; (unused) Declan Dunne (GK), Barry Crowe-Baggley, Kyle McClelland, Carl Johnston, Oisin Smyth.
Russia U21s: Maksim Borisko, Danila Prokhin, Ruslan Litvinov, Aleksandr Silyanov, Daniil Khlusevich, Konstantin Maradishvili, Nail Umyarov (captain), Vladislav Karapuzov, Danil Stepanov, Danil Prutsev, Konstantin Tyukavin. Substitutes: Ivan Budachev (GK), Ivan Kuzmichev, Maksim Mukhin, Mikhail Ignatov, Timor Suleimanov, Kirill Kravtsov, Daniil Kornyushin, Kirill Folmer, Kirill Bozhenov.
Photos courtesy of Russian Football Union