Nizhny Novgorod’s pubs are a far cry from Irish counterparts

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Fans celebrate Russia’s 2018 World Cup win over Egypt. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images

Fans celebrate Russia’s 2018 World Cup win over Egypt. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images

What to do in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod – a place closed off to outsiders until 1989 – when the host country is playing 1,100km away? Go to the pub, of course. Keith Duggan is in the city on the banks of the River Volga for Argentina’s meeting with Croatia tomorrow and yesterday he went along to some of the city’s bars to watch Russia’s win with the locals and see if World Cup fever had gripped the city. From St Petersburg, where Russia saw off Egypt 3-1 to all but secure their place in the second round, Ken Early reports on a stunning victory for the hosts and a first two games which few people expected.

Just under 2,000km south, Emmet Malone has been in the Black Sea resort of Sochi for the last week where the locals say they are fearful of being left behind by president Vladimir Putin in a city that was once thriving and where Joseph Stalin himself used to own a villa. The gleaming sports complexes built for the 2014 Winter Olympics tell one side of the story but the rugged and slightly rundown seafront paints a different picture altogether.

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