viernes, 2 de septiembre de 2011

Eurocopa Irlanda 0 - 0 Eslovaquia

Ireland and Slovakia battled to a goalless draw Friday, putting Russia in control of Group B in Euro 2012 qualifying.

Richard Dunne missed a free header in the Slovak box in the dying seconds to deny Ireland a last-gasp winner in front of a booing, whistling home crowd.

And striker Robbie Keane, who flew back to Dublin this week after starting his new job with the Los Angeles Galaxy, blew a gift-wrapped chance for a 74th-minute winner.

Winger Damien Duff floated a pinpoint cross into the box to Keane, who had got inside his marker. But Ireland's record goal-scorer headed over the crossbar from barely four yards out.

"It was a pity because I think we deserved to score," said Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, referring to three second-half misses by Keane, substitute striker Simon Cox and winger Aiden McGeady.

Slovakia, led by midfielder Marek Hamsik, dominated possession for long stretches as Ireland, bereft of initiative or pace in central midfield, opted for long and often off-target balls to isolated wingers and strikers.

The visitors forced several saves from goalkeeper Shay Given and the Irish defense, most crucially in the 61st minute, when striker Filip Holosko left Dunne for dead, then crossed to catch Hamsik sprinting into the box. But defender Sean St. Ledger leapt into the path of Hamsik's strike, deflecting it clear.

Slovak winger Vladimir Weiss _ son of the team's same-named coach _ repeatedly rattled the Irish defense with a mix of pace and deft passing, but his two on-target strikes both went straight to Given.

The Dublin draw left Ireland and Slovakia both level on 14 points behind Russia, which beat Macedonia 1-0 earlier Friday to take the group lead with 16 points.

While Ireland remained technically in second place with a better goal difference, the result handed Slovakia an advantage for winning the group's second-place playoff spot.

The Slovaks already have defeated Russia in Moscow, while Ireland must play there Tuesday. Slovakia, meanwhile, plays fourth-placed Armenia.

Ireland will travel to Moscow without St. Ledger, their best defender Friday, after he drew a late yellow card.

But St. Ledger urged the booing fans to keep the faith,

"Stick with us. The group's not dead yet," he said. "We're still in with a fighting chance on the same points as Slovakia."



Republic of Ireland: Shay Given; John O'Shea, Richard Dunne, Sean St. Ledger, Stephen Ward; Damien Duff, Glenn Whelan, Keith Andrews, Aiden McGeady (Stephen Hunt, 85); Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle (Simon Cox, 64).

Slovakia: Jan Mucha; Peter Pekarik, Jan Durica, Martin Skrtel, Marek Cech; Miroslav Karhan, Juraj Kucka (Karim Guede, 77), Marek Hamsik, Miroslav Stoch, Vladimir Weiss (Erik Jendrisek, 86); Filip Holosko (Robert Vittek, 88).

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