Slovakia 1-1 Republic of Ireland: Report
The Republic of Ireland got back on track in Euro 2012 qualifying with a battling 1-1 draw against Slovakia in Zilina but were left to rue Robbie Keane's missed penalty.
After Sean St Ledger's opener had been cancelled out by Jan Durica in the 36th minute, the Republic were handed a glorious chance to retake the lead in first-half stoppage time when Aiden McGeady was felled by Jan Mucha.
But the goalkeeper made up for his error with a fine save, and, as Slovakia dominated the second half, the Republic were left hanging on for a point that keeps them level with their opponents in Group B.
All the talk in the build-up to the match had been about the Republic's perceived negative tactics against Russia and their reliance on the long ball. But they dominated possession in the early stages and, after a couple of scares when Kornel Salata headed over and Juraj Kucka shot wide, took a deserved lead in the 16th minute.
Durica fouled Long wide on the right and, when the Slovakia defence failed to deal with Keith Fahey's free-kick, St Ledger squeezed a shot inside the post.
In the 36th minute, from the first corner of the game, Slovakia equalised as Marek Hamsik's cross was flicked on for Durica to power a header in off the crossbar.
The visitors were then dealt a blow when Paul Green picked sustained an injury and had to be replaced by Darron Gibson.
With the half entering injury time, the Republic were presented with a glorious chance to move back ahead when Mucha was adjudged to have brought down McGeady as he ran onto a through-ball from Richard Dunne. Keane stepped up but his penalty was too close to the keeper, who made up for his mistake in the best possible fashion.
In a reverse of the first half, the Irish were camped in their own half after the break, with Glenn Whelan's ambitious volley from 40 yards the sum total of their efforts as the clocked reached 65 minutes.
The Republic had a good chance with five minutes to play when the ball broke to Keane eight yards out but, after turning smartly, the captain could not keep his shot down. It was not to be Keane's night but the Republic may look back on this result as very much a point gained.
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