Wednesday 21 February 2018

Player ratings


Came into this game with concerns over his right knee, but his first contribution was a strong kick with that leg, and further demonstrated his health with a fantastic reaction save to deny Balazs Dzsudzsak. Withdrawn at the interval to give the Irish fans a scare, but he looked relaxed.


This was the Waterford man's fitness test after his persistent ankle problems, and further difficulty was added by the fact that Hungary's best player, Dzsudzsak, was living up to his €19m price tag. Some shaky moments, but in fairness this was a first outing since May 13.


The Hungarians had decided to test Ward's defensive aptitude, floating a range of balls in his direction. At times, the Wolves man struggled because he was simply outnumbered, and he did produce an excellent last-ditch tackle to deny Adam Szalai. But Slaven Bilic will have noted the tactic.SEAN ST LEDGER

With the Irish midfield struggling to impose immediately, the centre- halves had plenty of work to do, and St Ledger blotted the copybook with a slip that was covered by Given. However, Trapattoni respects the Leicester man's intelligence and he was solid in the second half, without being spectacular.


The conditions demanded caution, but there was no messing from Dunne with a brilliantly timed sliding tackle to stop a Hungarian advance in the first five minutes. It set the tone for another commanding performance, his timing was flawless aside from one mistake before the interval. The key man for Poland.


The Stoke man showed that he can pick a pass with a finely executed through-ball for Keane in the first half, but his main job in Trapattoni's system is to protect, and the Hungarians did find plenty of room in the central midfield territory. Better in the second half, if a little bit more restrained with his forward advances.


The star man against Bosnia burst out of the blocks with a purposeful run that ultimately came to nothing due to a communication mix-up with Keane. Lively throughout the game, but while everything went right in the final third against the Bosnians, everything was bouncing in the wrong direction here.


Largely anonymous in a first half where the red shirts controlled the engine-room exchanges, aided by their strength in numbers. Made a few errors in possession too, but he began the second half with more purpose as Ireland tightened things up. Replaced by Gibson as substitutions grew in frequency.


Could do with a confidence boost after a troubled season, and applied himself reasonably well in the first half, with one expert flick for Keane which provided an example of his aerial awareness. Strong running won a series of free kicks but unable to find space in Hungarian area, and withdrawn at the interval.


There were some loose touches from the skipper before the break, although he continued to find good positions with some clever runs to invite passes. The big game atmosphere in Poland should bring more from the skipper, but he doesn't look to be at concert pitch and was again one of the first to be called ashore.


Less explosive than McGeady these days, but showed a glimpse of the old magic with deft feet and precise cross to create an early chance for O'Shea. Was increasingly required for his defensive skills and helped out Ward in a difficult period for the left full. Quiet before being subbed after the hour mark.


Unbeaten run extended to 14 games and he managed to nurse Given and O'Shea through in full health, so he travels to Poland with his strongest XI. Concerns still linger over their approach, however, with an opponent deploying a 4-2-3-1 enjoying too much joy throughout attacking areas during the first half.

Keiren Westwood 7 for Given, 45 -- Showed he is an able deputy with one excellent save and some other good decisions.

Jonathan Walters 7 for Doyle, 45 -- Offers a real outlet, although he might have done better with header from Hunt cross.

Simon Cox 6 for Keane 61 -- Like Walters, he brought life to the party, but also missed a promising chance that McGeady created.

Stephen Hunt 7 for Duff 63 -- A few slips on the surface, but good deliveries and nicely timed goal-line clearance.

Darron Gibson 6 for Andrews 65 -- Mixed bag from the Everton man, who can both impress and frustrate in equal measure.

Paul Green for Whelan 84 -- not on long enough to rate.

Irish Independent

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