Republic of Ireland 0-0 Slovakia

Kevin Doyle and Martin Skrtel
Kevin Doyle battles with Martin Skrtel in the qualifier at the Aviva Stadium

The Republic of Ireland's hopes of qualifying for Euro 2012 suffered a blow as they were held by Slovakia in the Group B clash at the Aviva Stadium.

Giovanni Trapattoni's Irish were largely outplayed with Shay Given denying Vladimir Weiss in the first half and Sean St Ledger blocking a pointblank Marek Hamsik opportunity.

Damien Duff, Robbie Keane, Simon Cox and Richard Dunne did miss chances.

But a Republic win would have been an injustice on the Slovakians.

The result means heaps pressure on the Republic's qualifying campaign ahead of Tuesday's clash in Moscow against Russia.

The Irish will also be without suspended St Ledger who picked up a late booking after producing an heroic display.

Trapattoni was forced to make a late change to the Republic line-up with Kevin Doyle drafted in to replace injured striker Shane Long while Slovakia skipper Hamsik started after being a fitness doubt.

With both sides struggling to hold on to possession early on, the first serious attack didn't come until the 15th minute when Dunne had to move smartly as Weiss attempted to pick out Filip Holosko.

As Slovakia grew in confidence, Keith Andrews' concession of possession in midfield led to a quick break in the 19th minute and Given was relieved as Weiss fired straight at him from 16 yards.

Andrew and Glenn Whelan were being over-run in central midfield and as the pressure continued to build, Wolves' Stephen Ward had to make a vital intervention as Holosko appeared set to pull the trigger.

Totally against the run of play, the Irish almost took the lead on 38 minutes as Andrews' flick found Duff but keeper Jan Mucha saved the charging Fulham man's effort.

However, the Irish barely touched the ball over the next five minutes as the visitors owned possession and a frustrated Doyle was fortunate not to get a yellow card for a clumsy lunge at Skrtel.

The Irish tried to lift the tempo after the break but the huff and puff didn't result in any immediate goal threat.

There was still no cohesion in the Irish performance with a complete disconnect between the defence and midfield.

Instead, it was the Slovakians who continued to pose the threat with the lively Weiss firing across the face of goal on 56 minutes.

Right on the hour mark, St Ledger had to make a magnificent block when Hamsik appeared certain to score after Dunne had been caught for pace by Holosko.

Weiss then broke clear of the Republic defence again but failed to find a colleague with his cut-back as Ward cleared.

As was the case with Duff's first-half chance, completely out of the blue, the Republic were presented with a glorious opportunity on 74 but Keane headed wide from six yards when it appeared easier to score.

As the Irish tried to summon up a big finish, substitute Cox dragged a great chance wide in the 84th minute although the overlapping Andrews was perhaps better placed to shoot.

The Irish produced further frantic late pressure with Dunne completely missing a headed chance deep into injury-time but a home win would have been robbery on the Slovakians.

MATCH FACTS

Rep of Ireland: Given, O'Shea, St. Ledger, Dunne, Ward, McGeady (Hunt 84), Whelan, Andrews, Duff, Doyle (Cox 64), Keane.

Subs not used: Westwood, Foley, O'Dea, Lawrence, Keogh.

Booked: Dunne, St. Ledger.

Slovakia: Mucha, Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Cech, Weiss (Jendrisek 85), Karhan, Stoch, Hamsik, Kucka (Guede 76), Holosko (Vittek 88).

Subs not used: Putnocky, Jez,Sestak ,Michalik.

Booked: Kucka, Mucha.

Att: 44,761

Ref: Pedro Proenca (Portugal).