First-half penalties from Shane Long and James McClean were not enough for Republic of Ireland as they drew 2-2 with Slovakia in Dublin on Tuesday.
The hosts fell behind in the 14th minute when a mistake from Paul McShane gifted Slovakia the opportunity to score, with Miroslav Stoch applying an accomplished finish.
Ireland bounced back through a Shane Long penalty after 21 minutes, although replays suggested goalkeeper Matus Kozacik got a touch to the ball when challenging the striker.
Winger James McClean was then on hand to score from the spot just moments later after Long was brought down by Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel.
Martin O’Neill’s side had chances to extend their lead further, before McShane netted an own goal to leave the teams tied at 2-2 at half-time.
Substitutions hampered the flow of the match after the interval, but Ireland held on to a result that extends their unbeaten run to four matches, while Slovakia have not lost in five as both teams stepped up their preparations for Euro 2016 to good effect.
Ireland’s first chance of the game fell to McClean after a brilliant run from Long. The Southampton frontman charged down the right before feeding the ball to the West Brom man, but his effort was palmed away by Kozacik.
Despite their strong start, O’Neill’s men fell behind when Stoch capitalised on a mistake from McShane. The centre-back committed himself and misse
d the ball on the halfway line, allowing Erik Sabo to cut back to the goal scorer, who curled the ball into the top right-hand corner.
Ireland goalkeeper Rob Elliot, earning his fourth cap, was forced off after picking up an injury in attempting the save, with Darren Randolph his replacement.
The visitors’ lead lasted just eight minutes, though, as Long levelled from 12 yards after allegedly being brought down by Kozacik, though replays showed the Slovakia goalkeeper was very hard done by.
A second penalty two minutes later was converted by McClean into the bottom-right corner, before John O’Shea – winning his 110th cap – had a header blocked on the line by Jan Gregus.
But sloppy defending cost Ireland again just short of the half-time whistle as McShane scored an own goal in trying to deny Robert Vittek from converting Peter Pekarik’s cross.
With some places in his squad still up for grabs, O’Neill made numerous changes during the second-half. Winger Robbie Brady had already come on for Long, who looked to be nursing a calf injury late in the first half.
And Brady could have scored after a lay-off by Wes Hoolahan, but a goalmouth scramble was eventually cleared by the visitors in what was one of very few chances in the second period.
With both nations making plenty of changes towards the end, the action dried up, but neither will be too disappointed with a closely-fought draw, as both coaches look to finalise their Euro 2016 squads.
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