International Friendly-  Euro 2012 Warm-Up Game
Hungary 0-0 Republic of Ireland

 

 

Republic of Ireland's captain Robbie Keane (above middle) couldn't inspire the national team to a victory which would have been morale-boosting


 

Goalkeeper Shay Given looked to have proved his fitness in time for Euro 2012 as the Republic of Ireland withstood sustained Hungary pressure to extend their unbeaten run to 14 games in a goalless draw in Budapest.

Aston Villa shotstopper Given pulled off three fantastic saves from Dinamo Moscow midfielder Balazs Dzsudzsak before being replaced by Sunderland's Keiren Westwood between the sticks at half-time. Giovanni Trapattoni's men's display was mildly low key but they will have been content to come through without any fresh injury concerns and plenty of positives. The Irish team will now look forward and prepare to face Slaven Bilic's Croatia in their Euro 2012 Group C opener in Poznan on Sunday night.

Hungary had most of the clear-cut scoring chances in the game with tall striker Adam Szalai failing to find the net from several inviting goalscoring positions. In the final ten minutes, Irish substitute Stephen Hunt cleared off the line from a header by former Hull City winger Peter Halmosi to preserve Ireland's unbeaten sequence which includes keeping eleven clean sheets. 

Nevertheless, it had been the Republic of Ireland who had the first chance of the game, which kicked off around twentu minutes later than planned due to a electrifying thunderstorm that passed over the Ferenc Puskas Stadium in the Hungarian capital, when Sunderland defender John O'Shea headed just over the crossbar from Damien Duff's right-wing ball.

The hosts were indebted to Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper Adam Bogdan on twenty minutes who parried a fierce shot from Irish skipper Robbie Keane of MLS side LA Galaxy from the edge of the box while the young stopper- who broke into the first team picture last campaign for the Trotters who were relegated from the Premier League- had to be alert to save at the feet of Wolves striker Kevin Doyle soon after.  

However, Given's three saves from Dzsudzsak, including a stunning one-handed stop after the Hungarian's shot had deflected off the leg of Leicester's Sean St Ledger, reflected the balance of play that was being dominated by the hosts and Ireland were increasingly having to defend deep along the eighteen yard line and in numbers as Hungary began to run the show.

Szalai looked to have a great chance in front of goal but scuffed a tame shot straight at Given. There was another worrying moment for the Irish just before half-time as Szalai stepped inside a weak challenge from Richard Dunne and seemed certain to score until Wolves defender Stephen Ward made a tremendous recovery in the shape of a last-ditch block to stop his goalbound effort. The left-back remained on the ground in some pain for a few minutes but returned to the pitch after lengthy treatment to resume and complete the half with Fulham's Stephen Kelly introduced at the interval in his place.  

In the second half, Szalai threatened again for the Hungarians diverting the ball goalwards from close-range from a Pinter delivery but replacement goalkeeper Westwood saved well with his feet. Shortly after, Szakaly sent a rising drive narrowly over the bar after good link-up play down the right hand side again involving Pinter and right-back Jozsef Varga.

Ireland had become too easy to play through for Trapattoni's liking and from that point the central midfield pairing of Andrews and Whelan - and later Gibson as Andrews' replacement - dropped deeper as they looked to stifle their opponents. Accordingly, Trapattoni's side showed their defensive resolve and also fashioned chances at the other end as the second half progressed.

Simon Cox and Stephen Hunt came on and both almost played their part in giving Ireland the lead with two opportunities for the away side on the counter-attack. Firstly, Aiden McGeady played Cox through on goal but his low strike was saved by Bogdan, and a minute later a pin-point cross from Hunt was headed wide by Walters when he really should have hit the target. Hungary had one final chance to win the match in injury-time, a wonderfully weighted through pass from Szabics setting Kristian Nemeth free, but his attempt at a curling effort went horribly wrong and the ball trickled safely into the arms of Westwood.

Another Irish substitute, Stoke City's Jon Walters, had a strong shot saved by Bogdan and later headed wastefully wide from a good position after Wolves winger Stephen Hunt had worked room to deliver a pinpoint cross from the right wing.

 

Hungary:  Bogdan, Varga, Meszaros, Gyurcso, Korcsmar (C), Halmosi, Pinter, Koman, Dzsudzsak, Szakaly, Szalai.

Booked:   Korcsmar (23)

Substitutes bench:  Kiraly, Kadar, Nemeth, Debreceni, Vanczak, Koltai, Szabics.

 

Republic of Ireland:  Given, O'Shea, St. Ledger, Dunne, Ward, Duff, Andrews, Whelan, McGeady, Keane (C), Doyle.

Booked:    Ward (29)

Substitutes bench:  Westwood, Kelly, Walters, Gibson, Hunt, O'Dea, Long.

 

Referee:  Kenn Hansen (Denmark)- 9/10

Attendance:  17,245

 

Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne reviews 0-0 draw against Hungary"We were always confident and are happy to come away with a draw. We can go into the Euro 2012 tournament now in a real buoyant mood and it is a great record that we have of going to Poland without being beaten in fourteen games. We didn't pull out of any tackles but happily we did not have any injuries. It was arranged that Shay Given would come off at half-time. Goalkeeper is a specialist position and others have to get game time. They deserved to score in the first half, one or two goals, but Shay Given saved us," he said. In the second half we changed a bit and had fresh energy, with Jon Andrews and Simon Cox coming on, and we could have scored. But I am pleased with the draw and the fact that none of the lads have got themselves injured as the last thing we need at this stage is needing to make any changes to the squad."

 

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