Last Updated: 07/09/12 6:42pm
NI come agonisingly close, and again through McAuley who drills a half-volley at goal from a free-kick, with the elbow of Shirokov keeping it out of the net.
Russia nearly score a beauty. A wonderful move results in Kombarov drilling a ball across goal from the left but Kerzhakov just can't find that spring to meet it.
Korokin draws the foul from J Evans, a move that the defender really should have seen coming, and Russia have another free-kick on the right side.
Kerzhakov again tries his luck, but he is left staring into the sky as he sees his effort fly wide of the far post.
Dangerous moments again as McAuley clatters into Kerzhakov from behind, earning a booking, and conceding a free-kick 25 yards out.
Russia calmly keep possession until Davis nips in, showing the urgency that his team-mates need to show to get back into this game. Lafferty ends up with the ball but a smart tackle from Ignashevich wins it back for the hosts.
Cathcart nearly heads C Evans into trouble but the midfielder stays calm under pressure from Kerzhakov and plays back to Carroll.
From a NI corner, McAuley's header is cleared off the line as the visitors create their best chance of the game. Excellent defensive work in the end from Fayzulin.
Carroll is sent the wrong way and a calm penalty sees Russia 2-0 up. Surely game over for Northern Ireland barring a miracle here.
Penalty to Russia! Cathcart leans on Korokin in the box and another harsh decision goes against Northern Ireland.
Kerzhakov hits the post from the free-kick! A teriffic effort from the striker ends with NI clearing frantically.
NI are furious as they feel that Bystrov dived, replays showing he did just that. Regardless this is a real chance for Russia.
Brunt turns away from Denisov skillfully but C Evans again gives the ball away cheaply. Moments later, McAuley trips Bystrov right on the edge of NI's penalty area, the defender booked in the process.
Russia advance forward with NI's shape much improved compared to 15 minutes ago. Play is switched from left to right but the visitors do well to press the hosts back into their own half.
Kombarov does better to pick out Fayzulin, but now his final touch is poor as he plays over the top of J Evans who can easily hold off Korokin to clear.
Kombarov controls a sprayed pass from the right beautifully but for some reasons aims a cross straight into Carroll's arms when a team-mate was nowhere near the penalty area at the time.
NI do well to push Russia's promising attack back, with the lively Korokin making some excellent runs since his introduction.
Brunt looks for Davis but Anyukov reads the pass cleverly and breaks it up. Moments later Lafferty wins it back and takes a pop. It ends up in Akinfeev's arms though.
Bystrov backs into Cathcart and NI win a free-kick in the centre of the park. McAuley goes for the header in the box but Anyukov stays strong and sees the ball away.
Another loose header from C Evans presents Russia with possession. NI's good start to the second half seems to have crumbled now.
J Evans clatters into Kerzhakov but wins the ball fairly. The striker claims a free-kick but it's not getting given.
A beautiful spell of passing eventually, and sadly ends with Kerzhakov playing straight into Cathcart. The link up with Korokin, Bystrov and Kerzhakov was exceptional.
Bystrov strolls inside Cathcart, drilling the ball into the six-yard box with J Evans fortunate to be in perfect position to clear away. The home fans can sense the second goal is imminent here.
Davis is overpowered in midfield and Russia regain possession a little easily in midfield once again.
That's the Russian striker's last touch of the game as Dzagoev comes on with Kokorin taking his place.
Berezutski finds himself on the right wing, and while his cross is excellent into the box Dzagoev is offiside as he makes contact.
C Evans gives the ball away very cheaply to Denisov and NI, despite their desire are just failing to cut the mustard against the Russians so far.
A mix-up between Kerzhakov and Dzagoev denies what could have been a lovely link-up between the two, but the former ends up going the wrong way to the latter's pass. Quite bizarre scenes.
NI are let off once again as Berezutski prods a header towards goal and the visitors' defence breathe a sigh of relief as it trickles wide of Carroll's goal.
Fayzulin launches a threatening ball towards the far post and Cathcart keeps calm to prod the ball behind goal and concede a corner.
Lafferty's first touch is top drawer but he has little support ahead and has to play back to Brunt who is then charged down by Denisov.
Fayzulin's movement is excellent but after receiving the ball from Kombarov he can't beat Hughes, who does well to intercept.
Russia advance menacingly, but Kerzhakov sprays a ball across the 18-yard box and Kombarov ends up out of position, losing control and NI end up with a goal kick.
There's more urgency from NI as Ward delivers a really good ball into the box, with an off-balance Lafferty firing a weak header into the arms of Akinfeev.
A free-kick is given against Russia but Brunt wanted play to continue as the visitors had possession anyway. In the end J Evans' ball upfield is easily headed away.
Hughes delivers a teasing cross from the right but Berezutski heads away calmly as NI begin strongly.
David Willis is one that can't see a NI comeback. He writes: 'I can only see Russia putting more pressure on N,I,and getting more goals,final score 4-0,
Northern Ireland have worked hard but Russia's class has really shone through in the first 45. Can the visitors turn around? Send your second half predictions to email@example.com or @JWoodfield365
Good movement from the visitors but the Russian defence seems inpenetrable at the moment as Brunt's ball to Ward ends up with Ignashevich.
Handball is given against Fayzulin, a tad contentious it seemed but NI win a free-kick which they will be more than relieved by.
Shirokov makes a dazzling run through the centre but J Evans eventually makes the tackle but NI break and register their first shot on target as Lafferty lets one go from range. It was never troubling Akinfeev though.
Kombarov is playing a good role on the left, linking up play before Denisov looks for Dzagoev but Carroll is out like a cat to claim the pass.
NI are still to register a shot on it won't happen through an aimless ball into the box from midfield which leaves Lafferty everything to do.
Kombarov looks for Dzagoev down the line and Russia win the corner. Cathcart is the man that clears from the resulting delivery as J Evans is then clattered into by Berezutski.
Lafferty battles with Ignashevich but the free-kick is given against the NI striker who is having a rather unlucky half so far.
Great chance for 2-0. Kerzahakov's effort on goal is saved brilliantly by Carroll, with the rebound falling to Shirokov who heads over the bar.
It's all rather easy for Russia now, dominating play in NI's half with the visitors looking somewhat unable to cope at the moment.
Carroll gambles a little casually as he lets the ball bounce in front of him, with Fayzulin almost meeting it, and if he'd have stuck out a toe he may just have done.
Kerzhakov nearly strikes lucky but his ball takes a touch of Hughes than fortunately for NI runs into the path of Carroll rather than Dzagoev.
Brilliant play from Russia. Kerzhakov plays a pivotal role in the goal by picking out Fayzulin, a pass that splits the NI defence in half, before a calm finish from the forward gives Russia the lead.
Kombarov clashes with a camera on the touchline in unusual scenese, but he is back on his feet drifting a cross in from the left which Carroll reads all the way.
C Evans spreads play for Ward, who is nudged off the ball a little suspiciously but no foul is given against Shirokov.
McAuley is called into action again to clear Kombarov's ball into the box, but again NI show their own attacking intent as Brunt drifts forward and draws a good tackle from Anyukov.
Lafferty was nearly presented with a clear path to goal from Hughes' pass but the striker is judged to be offside. A decision Lafferty did not agree with it's fair to say.
Kombarov shows some nice skill to get down the left side, before playing back towards the centre for Denisov as Russia hold up play well in NI's half.
Lafferty fumes as another decision is given against him, before Russia press forward with Dzagoev's poor cross into the box landing in the arms of Carroll.
Kombarov just can't build up enough steam to storm down the right and NI break with men forward. C Evans looks to shoot on the edge of the box but he delays momentarily and Ignashevich comes in to make the tackle.
Half chance for NI as McAuley wins the header at the far post. It was a tame effort that trickled wide of goal but set pieces could be a good form of attack for the visitors today.
C Evans does brilliantly to break up on attack down the left, and Lafferty takes advantage by winning his team a corner.
This time Lafferty is caught offside, with the striker just coming up short all the time against the Russian centre-backs early on.
A miniature game of ping pong ensures before Northern Ireland win back possession, with Brunt fouled in the centre of the pitch by Denisov.
Ward takes on Ignashevich but the centre-back does well to deny the winger advancing into the penalty area.
Great chance for Russia. Northern Ireland are cut apart as McAuley catches Bystrov, before Kerzhakov takes aim on the edge of the box and inexplicably drills his shot wide.
Ward is played through by C Evans but he chooses the wrong option in searching for Lafferty and Berezutski heads away easily.
Lafferty hussles and bussles but loses out against Ignashevich, with Russia essentially in firm control possession-wise early on.
This time their movement is excellent as Dzagoev links up with Kerzhakov before firing at the near post. Carroll again does well though.
Russia have been penned in their own half for a while now, and as soon as Anyukov searches for Dzagoev, J Evans steps in to head away.
Shirokov does well to deny Ward a route into the box, and the Derby striker is then caught offside from Brunt's ball back to him.
Lafferty is unlucky to be penalised for chasing a loose pass from Brunt. Moments later Kerzhakov registers the first shot of the match but it's saved well by Carroll.
Denisov looks to set play forward but Nothern Ireland's shape is causing problems early on for Russia, as Cathcart wins a throw-in against Fayzulin.
Russia push up from the back, but the visitors keep their shape well with Cathcart intercepting before Jonny Evans takes a challenge from Kombarov.
Kerzhakov speculatively dinks the ball into the box and a nervous collision between Carroll and and McAuley is nearly seized upon by Dzagoev. Carroll claims in the end though.
Lovely work from Brunt to dispossess Anyukov, but as he looks for Lafferty in the box it's Ignashevich who heads away for Russia.
Denisov looks for the run of Dzagoev but the striker drifts offside past Cathcart and the linesman raises his flag.
Good work from Laffety early in as he prevents the ball from going out and follows up by laying it off to Hughes under pressure from Shirokov.
Northern Ireland subs: Camp, Hodson, McGivern, Little, Grigg, Norwood, Shiels, Carson, Clingan, Mannus.
Russia subs: Gabulov, Kokorin, Samedov, Ozdoev, Glushakov, Burlak, Yeschenko, Zyryanov, Shchennikov, Alexei Berezutsky, Shunin.
Fabio Capello, naming his first Russian side for a competetive game, goes for: Akinfeev, Anyukov, Ignashevich, Denisov, Kerzhakov, Berezutski. Shirokov, Dzagoev, Bystrov, Fayzulin, Kombarov.
To analyse the team news further, Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill hands goalkeeper Roy Carroll a first competitive start for six years. The 34-year-old, now plying his trade at Olympiakos, edged out Nottingham Forest's Lee Camp for the number one jersey, while Dean Shiels is also left on the bench despite man-of-the-match performances in his last two friendly appearances. Derby's Jamie Ward is given his maiden international start on the left of midfield and Corry Evans is also included.
Northern Ireland: Carroll, Hughes, Cathcart, McAuley, Evans, Baird, Davis, Ward, C Evans, Brunt, Lafferty.
Good afternoon folks and welcome to live coverage of the World Cup qualifying Group 6 clash between Russia v Northern Ireland at the Lokomotiv Stadium. If you'd like to drop me a line this afternoon you can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @JWoodfield365