Ireland v Slovakia - A Retrospective
Slovakia were to be the opponents in Bratislava in a one-off tie, with the draw on November 22nd sending the winners to either Bosnia and Herzegovina or Northern Ireland on March 31st with a golden ticket to UEFA EURO 2020 the prize.
November 22nd is a long, long time ago and the plans for March 26th have changed without recognition. Instead of throngs of green on the banks of Danube, the Irish fans are staying apart in this era of social distancing, dreaming and hopeful of a trip to the Tehelné Pole in the first week of June.
Today gives us a chance to look back at our record against Slovakia. Having played each other five times, we remain unbeaten. An omen for June perhaps?
Of those five games, four ended in a draw, with Ireland’s win coming in the first match to take place between the sides…
28/3/2007 - Republic of Ireland 1-0 Slovakia, Croke Park
Four days after Ireland’s historic opening match in Croke Park, Steve Staunton’s men returned to Jones’ Road looking to revitalise their UEFA EURO 2008 Qualifying campaign, and make it three wins from three.
Kevin Doyle’s header in front of Hill 16, would prove to be the difference. It remains the only winning goal between the two sides.
8/9/2007 - Slovakia 2-2 Republic of Ireland, Bratislava
Five-and-a-half months later, the teams met at June’s venue looking to chase down Czech Republic and Germany in the race for a spot in Austria and Switzerland the following summer.
While a draw suited neither side, it was what would come thanks to an injury-time Marek Cech equaliser. Stephen Ireland gave the visitors the perfect start with a goal inside the opening ten-minutes.
Maros Klimpl equalised for the hosts before the break, before a Kevin Doyle wonder-strike on the hour mark looked set to earn Ireland the three points. Cech would have the final say though, after taking advantage of a defensive mix-up to earn a point for the home side.
12/10/2010 - Slovakia 1-1 Republic of Ireland, Zilina
For the second European Championships in a row, the teams were drawn together for the Qualifying Stages.
In a tight Group D, both sides joined Russia on six-points after three games, with only one automatic spot at stake.
Fresh off their run to the Round of 16 at that summer’s FIFA World Cup, Slovakia were unbeaten at home in 2010 since their South African adventure, but it was Sean St. Ledger who gave the visitors the lead in the opening quarter.
The lead wasn’t to last long, with Slovakia earning the draw ten minutes before the break, thanks to the head of defender Ján Ďurica.
Giovanni Trapattoni’s side could have left Zilina with a win but Robbie Keane’s penalty was saved by Jan Mucha with the last kick of the first-half.
2/9/2011 - Republic of Ireland 0-0 Slovakia, AVIVA Stadium
Ireland’s penultimate home match of the UEFA EURO 2012 Qualifiers saw Slovakia come to Dublin with both teams dreaming of Poland and Ukraine the following summer.
In a game that hasn’t lived long in the memory, it finished scoreless in Dublin. Ireland would follow the game with a memorable draw in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium against Russia four days later, while Slovakia’s campaign petered out after a heavy loss to Armenia.
29/3/2016 - Republic of Ireland 2-2 Slovakia, AVIVA Stadium
As preparations turned up a level for UEFA EURO 2016, Martin O’Neill picked a matchday squad mixed with experience and youth, as players looked to book their seats on the plane to France.
In a proverbial game of two halves, all four goals came in the opening period. The visitors took the lead on the counter attack, with Miroslav Stoch’s shot beating Rob Elliott from the edge of the box.
Midway through the half, Ireland took the lead with two penalties in the space of three minutes. Shane Long was fouled twice in the box, with both goalkeeper Matúš Kozáčik and Martin Škrtel taking down the striker.
Both Long and James McClean scored their respective penalties, before a Paul McShane own-goal in added-time saw the teams share the spoils.
June 2020 - Slovakia v Republic of Ireland, Bratislava
If the previous five games have taught us anything, it’s that June’s match will be tight. Ireland have played well in their previous two trips to Slovakia, and were unlucky to leave both times with only a draw.
Mick McCarthy will be hoping that his side will be a little luckier, and move one step closer to the European Championships in 2021.