Republic of Ireland’s first home game against England for 20 years proved to be an anti-climax as the two sides served up a drab goalless draw in Sunday’s friendly at the Aviva Stadium.
Ireland must have been relieved for the opportunity to let their football do the talking after this week having to contend with questions over a €5m loan the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) was paid by FIFA as compensation for controversially missing out on the 2010 World Cup.
Martin O’Neill’s men were unable to secure a morale-boosting win ahead of their crunch Euro 2016 Group D qualifier against Scotland in Dublin next Saturday, though, as neither side did enough to secure victory.
Crowd trouble forced the last meeting between these two nations on Irish soil to be abandoned back in 1995, but there were no unsavoury scenes on this occasion.
The main concern for Ireland manager O’Neill will be whether his players can raise their game next weekend after they showed promise, but lacked quality in the final third.
England failed to match the standards they have set in a nine-match unbeaten run since the World Cup last year and Roy Hodgson will expect a marked improvement when they aim to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group E against Slovenia next weekend.
Ryan Bertrand made his first England start at senior level, while Ipswich Town duo Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick paired up front for Ireland with Robbie Keane not involved due to club commitments with LA Galaxy.
Both sides knocked the ball around with confidence, but it took 26 minutes for the first goalscoring opportunity to be created and it came the way of Ireland.
Murphy is still waiting for his first international goal, but the striker came close with a left-footed effort from inside the penalty area that Joe Hart got a fingertip to a full stretch, but a goal-kick was awarded.
Adam Lallana cut in from the left and let fly with a rasping right-foot drive that was off target two minutes before the end of the first half.
Wayne Rooney spurned a golden opportunity to move just a goal short of Bobby Charlton’s record tally of 49 England goals three minutes into the second half when Jordan Henderson picked him out after dispossessing Marc Wilson, but the striker’s heavy touch let him down.
Half-time substitute James McClean caused panic in the England penalty area when he delivered a dangerous free-kick that was bundled behind by Hart.
Rooney had a another chance to open the scoring before the hour-mark when he lined up a free-kick from just outside the penalty area, but Keiren Westwood got across to make a comfortable save.
Hart was again called into action to palm away a well struck shot from Jonathan Walters as the opening goal remained elusive and Ross Barkley blazed high and wide after the ball fell kindly for him at the other end.
Jamie Vardy replaced Rooney to make his England debut with 16 minutes remaining and fellow substitute Andros Townsend forced a save from Shay Given with a shot from 20 yards in a poor end-of-season encounter.