Friday 28 July 2017

The game at a glance

Damien Duff (Ireland): The only Irish attacking player who looked truly threatening all night, the Ballyboden native tormented Marek Cech and even when Slovakia doubled up he was able to wriggle free. A pity Robbie Keane couldn't match his superb 74th-minute delivery with a finish.



Talking point

As the home side, the onus was on Ireland to attack but the Slovakians outnumbered their hosts in midfield and the lack of options for players in possession led to an error-strewn, frustrating display. Ireland had chances eventually and the group is still alive, but the 4-4-2 system looks outdated and the urgency came far too late.

Ref watch

Experienced Portuguese official Pedro Proenca was correct to deny Glenn Whelan a penalty and while he was fussy about the Irish aggression in the air, he's hardly alone in international officialdom.

Crowd watch

Constantly noisy and full of colour. Yes, the Havelock Square end and its Slovakian faithful had a night to remember, turning their corner of Dublin 4 into little Bratislava. Elsewhere there was apprehension, smatterings of empty seats and a noisy tannoy.

And finally ...

Ireland's sixth clean sheet on the trot means that Trapattoni has now established the statistically meanest defence in the country's history. It's now 591 minutes since they have conceded a goal.

Match statistics

Yellow cards: Ireland 2 (Dunne 66, St Ledger 89), Slovakia 2 (Kucka 65, Mucha 75)

Shots on target: Ireland 4, Slovakia 10

Shots off target: Ireland 4, Slovakia 5

Corners: Ireland 3, Slovakia 4

Possession: Ireland 52pc, Slovakia 48pc

Attendance: 38,000

Irish Independent

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