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Dublin: 8°C Thursday 22 October 2020


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Slovakia 0-0 Ireland (Ireland lose 4-2 on penalties)

Hello, and welcome to tonight’s liveblog.

Ireland face Slovakia with the winner set to face Bosnia or Northern Ireland on 12 November for a place at the Euros.

The bookies’ have the Slovaks as slight favourites for this game, but it’s a hard one to call.

Both sides are coming into the game on the back of disappointing Nations League performances, having failed to qualify for their group automatically.

This is a big night for both managers — it’s undoubtedly the biggest game of Stephen Kenny’s career in just his third match in charge, while Pavel Hapal’s contract has yet to be extended beyond this campaign.

Confirmation of tonight’s Ireland team…

Confirmation of tonight’s Slovakia team: Rodák, Pekarík, Vavro, Valjent, Mazán, Kucka, Hrosovsky, Hamsik, Rusnák, Duda, Mihálik.

Another FAI  positive Covid-19 test for a second backroom team member has just been confirmed in a press release.

Meanwhile, it’s also been confirmed that contrary to the original teamsheet, Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah are not on the bench and will be unavailable for selection this evening.

Some pre-match reading for you…

Who do you think will progress tonight?

Poll Results:

Ireland (574)
Slovakia (352)

Straight away, Callum Robinson finds himself in a promising position inside the box.

However, his goal-bound shot is blocked and goes out for a corner.

Duffy’s ball finds the head of McClean, who directs it to Hendrick.

The midfielder then tries to return it to the Stoke man, but his pass is overhit.

Ireland have been enjoying a decent spell of possession of late, though they’ve yet to seriously test the opposition goalkeeper.

Hendrick seems to be playing in a very advanced role at the moment, effectively operating as a number 10.

Doherty trips Mihálik to concede a free kick in a promising position for the Slovaks.

However, Duda’s subsequent delivery is easily cleared.

Hendrick finds Robinson, but the latter can’t pick out McGoldrick with his cross.

Vavro manages to clear it out for a corner.

James McCarthy’s ensuing floated delivery is in vain, as the referee blows up immediately for an Irish foul.

Hamsik plays an incisive through pass, but it’s just too strong for the onrushing Mihálik.

That moment is then followed up by some good patient build-up play by Ireland, though they still don’t look particularly threatening in attack.

So far, it’s been predictably cagey.

Neither side has looked particularly troubled at the back.

The frustrating thing from an Irish perspective is, as is often the case, the team have been somewhat wasteful when finding themselves in promising positions.

Ireland have looked the superior side in recent minutes.

Despite creating very little, they have dominated possession and territory.

matt-doherty-comes-up-against-jaroslav-mihalik-and-ondrej-duda Ireland's Matt Doherty comes up against Jaroslav Mihalík and Ondrej Duda of Slovakia. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Robinson volleys a cross into the box after a scrappy passage of play, but Vavro is in the right place to head it clear.

The Irish side continue to look the more positive of the two teams.

A Doherty cross finds Hourihane, who nods it to McClean.

The winger then scuffs his goal-bound shot slightly and it’s blocked by Valjent.

That was good play by Ireland, they’ve been stringing passes together and applying the pressure very well in recent minutes.

As I type though, Duda tries to weave his way through the Irish defence, but Stevens is well placed to make the interception and clearance.

McClean lofts a through ball to McGoldrick.

The Sheffield United star’s shot is blocked out for a corner by Valjent.

From the corner, the Slovaks break.

The attack ends with Duda forcing a good save from Randolph with a powerful shot from the edge of the area.

Moments later, Duda is in the thick of it again, as his bicycle kick from a cross goes just wide.

The second half is underway…

McClean gives the ball away and then produces a crunching tackle into the back of Hamsik.

He consequently joins Conor Hourihane on a yellow card.


Hourihane curls in a free kick and Hamsik nearly diverts a header into his own net.

Duffy then collides with the goalkeeper as both go for the ball amid a corner, and the referee gives the decision in the Slovakia man’s favour.

Vavro finds himself in a very promising position, but he fluffs his cross.

Slovakia have been better since half-time and are putting more pressure on the Irish goal.

Doherty gets an important header away from Mihálik’s cross.

Ireland are under the cosh a bit here and need to survive this spell.

James McCarthy has gone down injured.

This could be another problem for Stephen Kenny.

Ireland make a double change.

Alan Browne replaces McCarthy and Robbie Brady is on for McClean.

Ireland are lining up slightly differently now.

Hendrick is in a deeper role, with Browne now the more advanced midfielder.

Meanwhile, Brady will play on the right and Robinson will switch to the left.

Duffy has just been booked for a high foot.

Otherwise, not too much of note has happened in recent minutes.

Big chance for Ireland!

After good hold-up work from McGoldrick, Stevens gets it and finds Browne in the area.

The midfielder’s strong shot is then parried away by Rodák.

More good link-up play by Ireland.

Doherty plays it to Brady, whose hanging cross is gathered by Rodák.

Slovakia now make a change.

Mihálik is replaced by Haraslin.

Huge moment!

Hamsik picks out the new man Haraslin with a good ball.

The substitute’s low shot gets past Randolph, but is brilliantly stopped on the line by Duffy.

The game is starting to become more open now with both sides tiring.

Despite that recent Slovak chance, Ireland are looking the more energetic of the two teams overall.

Just 10 minutes remain.

One goal should be enough to win it at this stage, or else extra time beckons.

Duffy heads away a threaded through ball by Hamsik.

The on-loan Celtic defender has had a very good game tonight.

Hourihane has just had a close-range shot cleared off the line.

It came after some great play by McGoldrick, Robinson and Browne in the build-up.

The Aston Villa man could have done better with his finish there.

Vavro has a pot shot from distance that goes well off target.

Looks like we’re headed for extra-time.

There will be three minutes of stoppage time…

The first half of extra-time is underway…

Straight away, McGoldrick has a shot from the edge of the area that’s tipped over.

The Sheffield United star has been impressive tonight.

From the ensuing corner, Duffy puts pressure on the goalkeeper and then Browne sees his header cleared off the line.

Duda’s attempted shot deflects into the path of Haraslin, who volleys over.

That’s another decent chance.

It’s still a very open game.

Both sides are looking increasingly tired, and you get the sense one mistake could decide this contest.

Ireland make another change.

Callum Robinson — who has had a decent game, linking up well with McGoldrick at times — is replaced by Callum O’Dowda.

So close!

Good initial play involving Stevens and Brady.

O’Dowda’s low cross then finds Browne, whose flicked finish comes back off the post.

That move deserved better.

The second half has begun…

darren-randolph-with-john-egan-and-shane-duffy-after-saving-an-attempt-by-slovakia Ireland's Darren Randolph with John Egan and Shane Duffy after saving an attempt by Slovakia. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Slovakia make a change.

Bozenik replaces Duda.

Another change for Slovakia.

Gyömbér replaces Vavro.

Ireland also make a change.

McGoldrick, who has been excellent, is replaced by Shane Long.

There’s another worry for Ireland, meanwhile, as Matt Doherty goes down holding his hamstring.

It looks like he’ll stay on for now anyway.

A good run by O’Dowda sees him win a free kick on the edge of the area.

Brady’s subsequent set-piece effort only finds the side netting.

Randolph tries a pass and it’s nearly intercepted in the dying seconds. But he just about gets away with it.

There will be two additional minutes before penalties.

This will be just Ireland’s third penalty shoot-out ever.

Romania at the 1990 World Cup and Spain at the same competition in 2002 were the two others.

They’ve obviously won one and lost one so far.

1-0 Slovakia – Hamsik scores.

1-1 – Hourihane scores.

2-1 Slovakia -  scores.

2-2 – Robbie Brady scores

3-2 Slovakia - Haraslin scores.

3-2 – Browne misses.

4-2 - Gregus scores.

4-2 – Doherty misses.

Well that’s that.

Ireland are beaten on penalties by Slovakia as their Euros dream ends in heart-breaking fashion.

The performance deserved better. Ireland played with a composure on the ball that has rarely been witnessed — particularly in away matches — in recent years.

Hourihane and Browne both missed excellent chances, while Slovakia went close as well on a few occasions.

Ireland probably edged it over 12o minutes, which makes the end result all the more cruel.

Right, that’s all from me for now.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

We’ll have more reaction to follow.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy


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