Night of mixed fortunes for Ireland

Northern Ireland’s hopes of reaching Euro 2012 were reduced to tatters in Tallinn as a series of individual mistakes left them on the wrong end of a humbling 4-1 scoreline against Estonia.

In a game littered with defensive mishaps, woeful lapses in concentration from goalkeeper Lee Camp and defender Gareth McAuley were responsible for two of Estonia’s four goals, with the consolation effort coming only when Raio Piroja put the ball past his own goalkeeper.

Comprehensive defeat to a nation ranked 86th in the FIFA rankings – 27 spots below Northern Ireland – will hurt but, having lost to Serbia on Friday too, it also leaves them fifth in Group C and with no hope of salvaging a play-off spot.

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David Healy won his 89th cap, a figure that lifted him to third on his country’s all-time list, but he could not break a near three-year international duck in a match that will be remembered for his side’s dismal exploits at the other end of the pitch.

Shay Given and Richard Dunne turned in defiant performances in Moscow as the Republic of Ireland survived an onslaught to keep their Euro 2012 hopes alive with a goalless draw.

Given produced three fine saves, the last of them a stunning 88th-minute stop from midfielder Konstantin Zyryanov’s diving header, to extend his side’s record run of clean sheets to seven.

But it took a remarkable goal-line block by Dunne to deny Igor Semshov before the break and another to keep out Roman Shirokov afterwards as the Russian assault ultimately came up short. The Aston Villa defender finished the game wearing a makeshift No 5 shirt after being made to remove the bloodied original, with staff having to draw the number on a blank one using a marker pen.

But that may now be one of his proudest possessions after he led a gutsy rearguard action which keeps Ireland’s hopes of automatic qualification from Group B alive. Russia remain two points better off, but travel to Slovakia next month, while Ireland end their campaign with a trip to Andorra and Armenia’s visit to the Aviva Stadium.