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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russians Earn 1-1 Draw in Dublin

APRussian defenders challenging Ireland's Damien Duff, left, in Saturday's Euro 2004 qualifier in Dublin that ended in a 1-1 draw.
DUBLIN, Ireland -- Sergei Ignashevich's goal late in the first half lifted Russia to a 1-1 draw with Ireland in Euro 2004 qualifying on Saturday.

Damien Duff opened the scoring in Dublin for the Irish, who remain second in a tight Group 10 with 11 points, but they will struggle to automatically qualify for next year's finals.

Russia has eight points but has played six games, one fewer than Ireland. Leader Switzerland, which visits Russia on Wednesday, has 12 points from six matches.

The Russians, playing their first match under new coach Georgy Yartsev, had the better chances throughout.

Portsmouth midfielder Alexei Smertin shot wide from the edge of the box after Ireland defender John O'Shea made a mistake in midfield.

Then, two minutes later, Dmitry Bulykin's free header went over the bar.

Duff, who plays for Chelsea, was credited with the opener in the 35th. After dribbling past a Russian defender, he shot toward goal.

Russia goalkeeper Sergei Ovchinnikov looked to have an easy save, but the ball went off a Russian defender and into the far post.

Shay Given made a sparkling save off substitute Alexander Kerzhakov in the 41st minute, tipping his twisting shot over the bar.

But the Newcastle keeper looked less sure on the Russian goal, which came from the ensuing corner.

Alexander Mostovoi -- one of several veteran players recalled to the squad -- floated his kick into the box, and Given couldn't punch the ball away clearly. Ignashevich pounced on the loose ball and slid it into the goal.

Both teams were more cautious in the second half, though Duff's shot in the 74th minute might have hit the target had it not been blocked by a Russian defender.

Duff was impressive, but Ireland lacked scoring punch without first-choice striker Robbie Keane, out with an ankle injury. Clinton Morrison started up front but created few chances. He was substituted in the second half.

Ireland, which lost to Russia 4-2 last September, could have clinched a playoff spot with at least a three-goal win.

Russia, with two draws and a loss heading into the game, replaced Valery Gazzayev with Yartsev last month.

In Saturday's other action, Wayne Rooney made a slice of history and David Beckham scored a match-winning penalty as England came back to beat Macedonia 2-1 in Skopje.

Georgi Hristov gave Macedonia a 28th minute lead, but 17-year-old Rooney became England's youngest goalscorer with a fine 53rd-minute equalizer, and captain Beckham slotted home 10 minutes later.

England's seventh straight victory, equaling its postwar record, kept it two points behind Group 7 leader Turkey, which beat Liechtenstein 3-0 away on Saturday, with a match in hand. If England beats Liechtenstein next Wednesday at Old Trafford, coach Sven-Goran Eriksson's side will only need a draw in its final qualifier in Turkey next month to book its place at next year's finals.

However, the win was marred by racist abuse for England substitute Emile Heskey and occasional unrest in a crowd where several hundred England fans, who had defied Football Association calls not to travel, were mixed with the home supporters. Macedonia fans burned an England flag and booed the British anthem minutes before kickoff.

On the pitch, England put on two markedly different performances, bitterly disappointing in the first half, but inspired in the second after a tactical switch by Eriksson.

Sorely missing the midfield authority of Steven Gerrard and creative spark of Paul Scholes due to injuries, England was also let down by its defense.

Skipper Artim Sakiri, who scored direct from a corner in a 2-2 draw last October, was the architect of Macedonia's attacks, spraying passes for strikers Ilco Naumoski and Hristov.

Neither side created a clear chance until the 28th minute when defender Sol Campbell failed to clear Vlatko Grozdanovski's cross from the right. England tried to scramble the ball away, but it ran for Hristov, who squeezed a shot past goalkeeper David James.

England then showed more purpose going forward but Macedonia's well drilled defense and a very mobile midfield were quick to smother any danger.

Beckham, booked for a foul as the frustration began to build, tried his luck with a long-distance free kick in stoppage time that Petar Milosevski comfortably gathered.

It was England's only real attempt on target, prompting Eriksson to switch from the usual 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 for the second half by replacing midfielder Frank Lampard with striker Heskey.

The change soon paid dividends, Rooney equalizing within eight minutes when he fired home a low shot from the edge of the area after Heskey nodded down a long ball from Beckham.

England kept pushing for a second goal and soon found it when defender John Terry was tripped by Macedonia's Brazilian-born substitute Braga and Beckham converted the penalty.

Eriksson's men nearly snatched a third when Campbell had a glancing header parried, and Owen's follow-up shot failed to beat Milosevski.

(Reuters, AP)