Ireland find no way past Hungary
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 03:21

It poured with rain but not with goals as the Republic of Ireland secured a scoreless draw which extended their unbeaten run to 14 games. An even better and more significant result from Ireland's perspective was that all 17 players involved came through the game unscathed, just hours before boarding a plane destined for Gdansk.

Giovanni Trapattoni's side, who begin their UEFA EURO 2012 campaign against Croatia on 10 June, may not have performed to their potential but displayed a familiar solidarity against a dynamic Hungary side, who impressed throughout.

With a thunderstorm delaying the kick off by 20 minutes, the main question of note was which team would settle first. And it was Ireland, who, profiting from Kevin Doyle's aerial presence, almost took a seventh-minute lead when John O'Shea headed over from Damien Duff's right-wing cross.

Hungary's response was immediate. Their midfielder, Balázs Dzsudzsák, was heavily influential in the opening quarter and forced Shay Given to make two excellent saves, the second of which saw the goalkeeper react sharply to divert a deflected shot wide. Now on top, Hungary were unfortunate not to be ahead by half-time but Ireland's defending - particularly from Richard Dunne and Stephen Ward - was impressive.

Just as noteworthy was Giovanni Trapattoni's decision to replace Given and Doyle with Keiren Westwood and Jonathan Walters at half-time - sensible decision-making given the context of the week. With five other changes catered for over the course of the evening, the feeling of inclusiveness for Ireland's squad players was achieved.

One of those replacements, Westwood, performed heroically to deny another Dzsudzsák shot, while Walters came close to breaking the deadlock on three occasions. Yet in the final analysis, Hungary were the better side and could have won it via Imre Szabics, whose 84th-minute strike was cleared off the line by Stephen Hunt.

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