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Cox comes good as Ireland hold Czechs

Published: Wednesday 29 February 2012, 23.21CET
Republic of Ireland 1-1 Czech Republic
Substitute Simon Cox extended Ireland's unbeaten run to 12 games as their fellow UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers failed to build on Milan Baroš's opener.
by Alex O'Henley
from Dublin Arena
Cox comes good as Ireland hold Czechs
Ireland's Robbie Keane holds off Jaroslav Plašil of the Czech Republic ©Getty Images
 
Published: Wednesday 29 February 2012, 23.21CET

Cox comes good as Ireland hold Czechs

Republic of Ireland 1-1 Czech Republic
Substitute Simon Cox extended Ireland's unbeaten run to 12 games as their fellow UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers failed to build on Milan Baroš's opener.

Second-half strikes from Milan Baroš and substitute Simon Cox ensured UEFA EURO 2012 finalists Republic of Ireland and the Czech Republic finished with honours even in Dublin.

Galatasaray AŞ striker Baroš opened the scoring for the visitors on 51 minutes – his 40th international strike – but Cox came off the bench to salvage a draw for Giovanni Trapattoni's team with an equaliser four minutes from the end.

The hosts demonstrated their attacking intent in the opening minute when Aiden McGeady's teasing cross from the left picked out Shane Long at the back post only for the striker to head into the arms of Petr Čech. Shay Given was then called into action twice at the other end, blocking Jiří Štajner's near-post shot before the Aston Villa FC goalkeeper was forced to gather a loose ball after his attempted clearance had broken off Jan Rezek.

Trapattoni had asked captain Robbie Keane to play a deeper role, but the LA Galaxy striker was the furthest man forward in the 15th minute, latching on to Sean St Ledger's long ball before firing straight at Čech's legs. Moments later, John O'Shea also went close with a header from a Damien Duff free-kick as the Irish continued to press.

However, Michal Bilek's side were enjoying the lion's share of possession in midfield with Štajner's subtle promptings catching the eye. With half-time approaching, Rezek tested Given again with a rasping drive from the angle of the box.

The visitors broke the deadlock six minutes after the restart. Once again the impressive Rezek was integral, finding space outside the Irish box before picking out Baroš, who calmly slotted past Given from 15 metres. It proved to be the Galatasaray striker's last significant contribution, with the hour mark triggering a raft of substitutions from both sides.

The home crowd were stirred by the sight of James McClean stripping for action, and the precocious Sunderland AFC winger was immediately involved, with a surging run and cross which was claimed by the commanding Čech. Trapattoni's side now had fresh impetus and four minutes from time Cox calmly drilled past the Chelsea FC goalkeeper from a tight angle to stretch Ireland's unbeaten run to 12 matches.

Last updated: 28/06/12 15.08CET

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