Dublin: 14°C Saturday 16 October 2021


70,856 Views 71 Comments

Hello, and welcome to tonight’s liveblog.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail paul@the42.ie, tweet @the42_ie, post a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

You may need to refresh the page for YouTube videos and other elements to display correctly.

Here is the Ireland starting XI for tonight’s match…

Elliot; Christie, O’Shea, McShane, Ward; McCarthy, Whelan; O’Kane, Hoolahan, McClean, Long.

And here is the Slovakia team…

Matus Kozacik, Peter Pekarik, Martin Skrtel, Jan Gregus, Stanislav Sestak, Miroslav Stoch, Robert Vittek, Erik Sabo, Kornel Salata, Marek Hamsik, Dusan Svento.

Rob Elliot Goalkeeper Rob Elliot. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Roy Keane Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Some pre-match reading for you…

We’re all set for the teams to come out now…


Not the best of starts for Paul McShane.

The defender is a little short of options and passes it straight out of play.


Decent start for the Slovaks.

The visitors have dominated possession and territory, forcing the Irish defence into a few panicked clearances.


Ireland look to be playing a 4-4-2 at the moment.

McClean and Long are up front, with Hoolahan and O’Kane on the wings.


Ireland haven’t really threatened yet.

Hoolahan has just lofted a free-kick straight into the keeper’s hands.

As I type, Long narrowly fails to connect with a Christie cross.


Ireland are now adopting a much more narrow shape.

McCarthy and Whelan are sitting with Hoolahan and O’Kane ahead of them.


O’Shea tries to find McClean with a long ball but it drifts aimlessly into the keeper’s arms.

It hasn’t been the best of starts for Ireland in an attacking sense.


Ireland break with Long.

The striker plays it to McClean, whose shot forces the first save of the evening from Kozacik.


Out of nothing, Slovakia break down the right through Sabo.

The attacker’s cross finds Stoch, who comfortably slots the ball past Elliot to give the visitors the lead.


Randolph has replaced Elliot, who seemed to injure himself diving for that goal.

The Newcastle player has been taken off on a stretcher.


Hoolahan lays it to Whelan, whose shot is deflected out for a corner.

Better from Ireland.


Hoolahan plays McClean down the wing.

However, no one is adequately placed to convert the West Brom winger’s driven cross.






Ireland are back on level terms.

O’Kane plays a through ball to Long, who appears to be tripped up by the keeper.

The Southampton man then sends the goalkeeper the wrong way from the ensuing spot kick to equalise for the hosts.


Again Long is impeded, this time by Skrtel.

McClean then slots home the penalty.


Slovakia are finding it very difficult to deal with Long’s pace up front.

Their defenders clearly are panicking when one-on-one with the Southampton star.


Ireland have been much better these last few minutes, and are controlling the play currently.

It’s as if that Slovakia goal angered and enlivened them.


Wes Hoolahan has really impressed so far, dictating the majority of Ireland’s best attacking moves.

The Boys in Green look a different team at times with the Norwich man in the side.


Sabo has just been booked for not just one but two rash challenges, on McCarthy and Whelan respectively.

The Everton star in particular looks less than impressed with his opponent’s behaviour.


O’Shea’s header from an O’Kane corner is blocked by a Slovak body, before the visitors are awarded a free-kick from the defender’s subsequent challenge.

This game is being played at a decent tempo, in contrast with Friday night.


Somewhat worryingly for Ireland, Shane Long is down receiving treatment.

The Southampton star has been the best player on the pitch so far.

He hobbles off the pitch, though it looks like he’ll be okay to continue.


Gregus has just scuffed a shot well wide for Slovakia.

The visitors have been a little disappointing and rather brittle-looking since the opening goal.


Ireland have definitely tried to play the ball to feet more this evening.

Martin O’Neill’s criticism the other night was obviously taken into account, although it’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s almost an entirely different team from Friday.

As I type, O’Kane plays a risky header back to Randolph, which the keeper just about gathers.


Long tries an audacious attempt from about 30 yards out that deflects harmlessly into the keeper’s arms.

The way he’s been playing that was worth a try.


Pekarik gets away from Ward down the right and his cross is diverted in.

It’s not entirely clear whether Vittek or McShane got the final touch.


Half-time, and oddly, it’s been more encouraging than the Swiss game in a way.

Ireland have been better with the ball and look a lot more inventive in attack, with Shane Long especially lively up front.

That said, the defence is far less assured this evening.

Particularly down Ireland’s left, the Slovaks are finding some joy, with Stephen Ward getting exposed by their pacy attack on more than one occasion.


Having seen the replay, it’s now clear that the second Slovakia goal was a Paul McShane own goal.

That’s unfortunate for the Reading captain, who is looking to impress Martin O’Neill tonight.


James McClean celebrates scoring Ireland's second from the penalty spot James McClean celebrates scoring Ireland's second from the penalty spot. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO


Shay Given on Setanta describes Rob Elliot’s injury as a “big concern”.

But it certainly boosts the Stoke goalkeeper’s Euro chances.


Two substitutions at half-time for Ireland — Alex Pearce replaces John O’Shea, and Robbie Brady comes on for Shane Long, who impressed tonight.


Some nice interplay between Brady and Hoolahan so far.

Ireland now have five in midfield seemingly, with McClean as the lone frontman.

As I type, Brady blasts a shot well over the bar.


O’Kane gets in a good position on the edge of the box, but slices his shot well wide.

Ireland have been the better side since half-time, though worryingly, Randolph has just miskicked woefully against the body of a Slovakia player.

Luckily for the goalkeeper, the ball deflects harmlessly out of play.


Hoolahan plays it to McClean, who is taken out on the edge of the area, but oddly, the referee awards a free kick for the Slovaks, seemingly because the ball came off the Ireland player’s hand as he fell to the floor.

Perhaps the officials are trying to make up for the somewhat dubious initial penalty they awarded to Ireland tonight.


O’Kane is punished for a sloppy pass as the Slovak’s break. Stoch’s shot at Randolph is tame enough though.

Down the other end, Hoolahan wins a free-kick just outside the box.


Robbie Brady’s attempt deflects off the wall and goes out for a corner.

It’s been a decent spell for Ireland in recent minutes.


Great play from Cyrus Christie, who beats his man down the right, before crossing to Hoolahan.

The Norwich man tries to redirect the ball to Brady, but the keeper grasps it gratefully.

Meanwhile, Pilkington has just replaced O’Kane in the latest change for Ireland.


Pilkington now appears to be playing as the lone striker.

For all their good possession, Ireland have lacked a cutting edge in the final third since Long’s departure.


Nice link-up play between Pilkington and Hoolahan.

The former beats his man before winning a free kick on the edge of the box.


Brady curls the free kick well over.

The Norwich player has been a little disappointing from set pieces so far.


Another substitution for Ireland, as Hoolahan — who has been excellent — is replaced by McGeady.

Doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing Alan Judge tonight so.


There has been a noticeable drop in tempo of late.

It’s hardly surprising, given the wealth of substitutions.


Frustrating, as Ireland get a chance to counter-attack, but Randolph throws the ball straight out of play.

The West Ham stopper’s distribution hasn’t been great at times tonight.


Yet another substitution, as Hayes comes on for Ward.

That will probably mean Robbie Brady reverts to left-back.


Lovely bit of skill by Aiden McGeady to outfox his marker.

That’s got one of the biggest cheers of the night.


Following that exciting and at times frantic first half, this is really starting to feel like a friendly now.

The match has been totally devoid of a noteworthy incident for the past 10 minutes or so.

Although as I type, Hayes runs down the left and wins a corner.


Some players out there are literally strolling at the moment.

You wouldn’t think Euro 2016 places were up for grabs judging by the body language of some of them.


Chance of a counter-attack, but McGeady fails to beat his man.

Plenty of people are heading for the exits now.

Wes Hoolahan has just been deservedly named man-of-the-match.


There will be only two minutes of added time mercifully…


Right, that’s all from me.

Thanks for reading and commenting — we’ll have further reaction shortly.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy