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Dublin stalemate frustrates Ireland and Slovakia

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Slovakia
Both sides missed the opportunity to go top of Group B after a goalless draw at the Dublin Arena that left Russia clear at the summit.

Robbie Keane missed a glorious opportunity to earn all three points for the Republic of Ireland
Robbie Keane missed a glorious opportunity to earn all three points for the Republic of Ireland ©Getty Images

The Republic of Ireland and Slovakia both missed the chance to go top of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group B after a goalless draw at the Dublin Arena.

Slovakia frustrated their hosts while threatening a goal through Vladimír Weiss and Marek Hamšík, and although Ireland came into their own late on with Robbie Keane and Simon Cox missing good chances, defences were on top as the game ended goalless.

Despite playing in front of a vocal home crowd it was the visitors who started the better of the two sides. Marek Čech's sighter after 15 minutes was a sign of things to come in the first half as Slovakia imposed themselves on the match. Moments later, Hamšík picked out Weiss but the Rangers FC midfielder shot straight at Shay Given. Filip Hološko then got his head onto the end of Miroslav Stoch's cross to force the Ireland goalkeeper into another fine save.

The hosts' best moment of the half came seven minutes before the break, Damien Duff exchanging passes with Keith Andrews before unleashing a low drive which was well saved by Ján Mucha down to his left. The second period started in a similar fashion to the first, though, and Weiss was perilously close to giving Slovakia the lead but his shot across goal crept just past the post.

As Ireland struggled to find their rhythm, Hamšík could have scored but Sean St Ledger threw his body in the way to deny the Slovakia captain. Giovanni Trapattoni's side were far from their best but record goalscorer Keane will rue his missed chance, the LA Galaxy forward heading over from two metres out with only Mucha to beat.

With time running out Keane then found Simon Cox who dragged his shot wide from just inside the penalty area. A sour note for the hosts will be St Ledger's yellow card three minutes from time which means he will miss Tuesday's crucial trip to Russia. On the same night, Slovakia host Armenia who are by no means out of the qualification race after beating Andorra.