Derby County striker Jamie Ward tasted defeat on his first-ever international start for Northern Ireland on Friday.
The frontman was handed a first start on the international stage for Michael O’Neill’s men in their opening World Cup 2014 qualifier in Russia, which ended in a 2-0 defeat in Moscow.
A first-half strike by Alexander Kerzhakov and Roman Shirokov's late penalty gave Fabio Capello’s men all three points, as they recovered from a disappointing Euro 2012 on a winning note.
Having come off the bench and impressed in August’s 3-3 friendly draw with Finland in Belfast, Ward was in from the start to collect his third international cap having debuted in August last year against the Faroe Islands.
Ward was deployed on the right-hand side of midfield in a 4-5-1 formation, and proved to be a worthwhile attacking outlet when the visitors were able to get on the ball.
Northern Ireland are back in action next Tuesday (11th September) at home Luxembourg in their latest World Cup Qualifier, and Ward is due to report back for training with the Rams later next week ahead of next Saturday’s npower Championship clash at Huddersfield Town.
Birmingham-born Ward has featured in all four of Derby’s league games this season, and opened his account for the campaign last time out as Nigel Clough’s men hammered Watford 5-1 at Pride Park Stadium.