Slovakia 0-0 Ireland (4-2 pens): Heartbreak for Stephen Kenny's men

Slovakia 0-0 Republic of Ireland (4-2 pens): Stephen Kenny’s men suffer shootout heartbreak in Euro 2021 play-off semi-final as their hopes of reaching next summer’s tournament are ended

  • After 120 mins of football, the game between Slovakia and Ireland ended 0-0   
  • The two sides went to penalties and it was Pavel Hapal’s men emerged victorious
  • Hamsik, Patrik Hrosovsky, Lukas Haraslin and Jan Gregus scored for Slovakia
  • Conor Hourihane and Robbie Brady scored for Ireland in their first two penalties
  • But Alan Browne’s shot was saved and Matt Doherty hit the cross bar to end 4-2  

For once they created chances but again they failed to score, and so Republic of Ireland will be spectators when Dublin hosts matches at Euro 2020 after their penalty shootout defeat in Slovakia.

Spurs right-back Matt Doherty was the fall guy who crashed the decisive spot-kick against the crossbar after a goalless 120 minutes in which Ireland had been the better side.

Substitute Alan Browne was the other who missed in the shootout but he could have won it in extra-time when his close-range stab kissed the base of the post.

Pavel Hapal’s men beat Ireland 4-2 on penalties after 120 minutes of football ended 0-0

Ireland’s hopes of reaching Euro 2021 next summer have ended in heartbreak on penalties 

Alan Browne’s and Matt Doherty missed to see Slovakia go through to the play-off final

Ireland should have nicked it in normal time, too. There were only a few minutes remaining when the ball rolled along the six-yard line to Conor Hourihane.

It was on his weaker right boot, yes. But that was no excuse, not when it all needed was a gentle steer into either of the unguarded bottom corners. He did not even have a goalkeeper to beat. Hourihane, though, poked tamely at the defender on the goal-line.

Ireland were to pay the price and, while the performance under new boss Stephen Kenny deserved more, it was familiar failings that proved their undoing.

Ireland did, however, create chances for once but again they failed to score during the game

The performance under new manager Stephen Kenny deserved more than what they got

Only once in three years have Ireland scored two goals in a competitive fixture, and even that was against minnows Gibraltar.

But at least they carved plenty of openings here, and that will extend the period of good grace afforded to Kenny in Ireland, regardless of the eventual defeat.

The natives hope that his instalment will bring evolution from kick and run to pass and press. And, on this evidence, it will. But without goals it matters not.

Conor Hourihane should have scored for Ireland when the ball rolled along the six yard line

Perhaps it would have been a different story had Brighton forward Aaron Connolly not been forced to withdraw in the hours before kick-off after a backroom member he is thought to have been in close contact with tested positive for Covid-19.

James McClean won promotion to the starting XI but not even the old talisman could force the goal his country so badly needed.

Kenny needs to find someone who can. If not, Ireland will continue to look in on major tournaments.


Ireland: Randolph, Doherty, Stevens, Duffy (c), Egan, Hourihane, McCarthy, McGoldrick, McClean, Robinsob, Hendrick

Subs: Kelleher, Molumby, Idah, Byrne, Brady, Williams, Connolly, Long, O’Dowda, Travers, Browne. 

Penalties scored: Conor Hourihane and Robbie Brady 

Penalties missed: Browne and Doherty 

Slovakia:  Rodak, Pekarik, Vavro, Valjent, Mazan, Kucka, Hrosovsky, Hamsik (c), Rusnak

Subs: Bero, Schranz, Koscelnik, Pauschek, Haraslin, Gregus, Gyomber, Bozenik, Mak, Kuciak, Greif 

Penalties scored: Hamsik, Hrosovsky, Haraslin and Gregus 

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