Penalty heartbreak in Bratisla...


Penalty heartbreak in Bratislava ends Ireland's Euro dream

Share this article

The Republic of Ireland will not be at Euro 2020, after losing their playoff semi-final in a penalty shootout to Slovakia. 

Stephen Kenny's side were the better side on the balance of 120-minutes' scoreless play with substitute Alan Browne hitting the post in extra-time.

Before that, chances in the 90 for Browne and Conor Hourihane went a-begging.

Browne was again to be denied in the shootout, with his penalty saved. Matt Doherty stepped up to take Ireland's fourth and keep Ireland in it, but rattled the crossbar.

And so Slovakia, and not the Republic of Ireland, will play Northern Ireland in Belfast for a place in the European Championship finals. Games in Dublin will play out without the hosts.

Before the game, a note of chaos.

James McClean was given his first start under Stephen Kenny, with Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah named on the bench.

However, Kenny later revealed that Connolly and Idah were no longer part of the matchday squad.

An FAI missive said another member of the travelling backroom team had tested positive for COVID-19, but no confirmation from Abbotstown if the young attackers were implicated or not.

McClean's willingness to track back came in handy early on, snuffing out an early Slovak attack.

Eight-minutes before the break, the Stoke man almost broke the deadlock but a wayward shot was the punctuation mark on some patient Ireland build-up.

Ireland looked - just slightly - to have had the better of the first 45-minutes, until their third corner of the half was turned into a Slovakia counter. Marek Hamsik was their creator, Ondrej Duda eventually won possession and fired of a shot that required a fine, low save from Darren Randolph.

The resultant corner saw Duda attempt an acrobatic effort that saw the ball flash wide.

Five-minutes after the break, Hamsik provided Ireland with a chance. A Conor Hourihane free-kick bounced through the hosts' box, and Hamsik's attempts to deal with it saw him head just wide of his own post.

Ireland's best chance of the match arrived 20-minutes from time. Alan Browne found himself in space, but his drilled effort was saved by Marek Rodak.

The game was stretching, becoming more open, and Slovakia almost poked their noses in front with 16-minutes to go. Hamsik again found substitute Lukáš Haraslín. He was only on the field when he drew Randolph and got a shot away that was cleared off the line by Shane Duffy.

Ireland nearly won it five-minutes from the end. McGoldrick threaded the ball through to Callum Robinson. His ball to Browne was squared to Conor Hourihane who 7-yards out saw a shot saved on the line.

Into extra-time it went, and Ireland almost broke the deadlock inside the first minute. David McGoldrick produced a save from Rodak, and from the following corner a shot was cleared off the line.

Soon after, Haraslín sliced a volley wide after a deflected shot sat up nicely for him.

Having tested the goalkeeper and the last line of defence, the woodwork was finally tested just before half-time in extra-time with Browne again the man denied.

A Robbie Brady free-kick grazed the side-netting. But a lack of goals set up just a third penalty shootout in Ireland's history.

Share this article

Read more about

Aaron Connolly Adam Idah Callum Robinson Darren Randolph David McGoldrick Duda Enda Stevens Ireland James McCarthy James Mcclean Jeff Hendrick Marek Hamsik Ondrej Duda Republic Of Ireland Shane Duffy Slovakia Stephen Kenny

You might like