Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given has said that his side are going to face a harder test next month when they face Russia in Dublin in their Euro 2012 qualifer.
Dick Advocaat’s men will head for the Aviva Stadium on Friday, October 8 no doubt still smarting from their 1-0 home defeat by Group B rivals Slovakia in Moscow last night.
Their surprise reverse came just hours before the Republic defeated minnows Andorra 3-1 on home turf to complete a maximum haul from their opening two qualifiers following a 1-0 win in Armenia.
That left the Republic and the Slovakians locked together at the top of the group with Giovanni Trapattoni’s side leading the way on goal difference, although the campaign remains at the formative stage and much more difficult tasks lie ahead.
Given said: “Obviously, next month is going to be trickier with the two best teams in the group. It will be a lot more difficult, but you can only do what you can do and six points is a good start.”
The stakes will be raised significantly when Russia touch down in Dublin before Ireland fly out to Slovakia for two games in the space of five days which could have a major influence on who makes it to the finals.
The Manchester City goalkeeper was a spectator for much of last night, but could do little to keep out Christian Martinez’s rising half-volley.
He said with obvious understatement: “It wasn’t too bad. It was disappointing - obviously, you don’t want to concede, but it was a pretty decent strike.
“He probably couldn’t have hit it any better. I thought it might have been a free-kick on Richard [Dunne], but the referee didn’t give it and the guy just came on to it and stuck it away pretty well.
“You would like more goals and you would like a clean sheet and you would like a lot of things, but before last Friday, if you had said six points, that was the aim over the two games and we have done that now.