04.06.2012 at 15:00 Puskas Ferenc Stadion
0 - 0
Republic of Ireland
Referee: Kenn Hansen (Denmark)
Friendly / PROG-match
Hungary 0 – 0 Republic of Ireland
Ireland were content to finish on level terms with Hungary after an eventful contest on a pitch made unpredictable by heavy rain. Both teams lost credible scoring opportunities but it was Shay Given who was tested more regularly as Hungary showed confident form and looked the more likely team for 45 minutes when Ireland lived dangerously.
Ireland gained a measure of control of the game in the closing 30 minutes when they were enlivened by the introduction of several substitutes. Hungary appeared not as confident in dealing with the challenge of the newcomers and Ireland lost chances to win the game. Hungary's several substitutions were not as effective as Ireland's and a change in their formation upset their control. Still Ireland must have welcomed a drawn game as they stretched their unbeaten run to 14 matches and maintained another clean sheet, their eleventh in that run.
A thunder-and-lightning storm that broke over the Ferenc Puskas Stadium in Budapest caused a delay in the start of the match. Rain sheeted down at the appointed kick-off time and the referee from Denmark decided to hold the teams back to await an improvement in conditions.
Ireland and Hungary players were already in the tunnel, ready to march out on to the pitch at the time. The Hungarian team withdrew to the dressing-room while awaiting developments while the Irish players stayed chatting in the tunnel.
The rain was still falling when the match kicked-off twenty minutes behind schedule. The playing surface showed signs of the heavy rain but, thankfully, water did not appear to be lodging on the surface in the early minutes.
Kevin Doyle's ability in the air caused Hungary's defence many problems as Ireland looked strong and menacing in the early play. John O'Shea caused the first moment of excitement after seven minutes when he got his head to Damien Duff's right-wing cross and flicked the ball narrowly over from 20 yards.
Robbie Keane tested Bogdan with a left-foot shot from 18 yards that the goalkeeper palmed away but then twice, in a few minutes, Shay Given had to make excellent saves from Dzudtsak, who clearly had decided to adopt the policy of shooting on sight. The second shot, after 15 minutes, took a substantial deflection and Given did marvellously well to adjust his body and save.
Hungary gradually settled into a rhythm and with numerical advantage in midfield they dictated most of the play. Fortunatly for Ireland Given was in sparkling form and Hungary's better chances fell to the powerful centre-forward, Szalai, whose finishing belied his recent record of having scored five goals in his last eight matches.
He should have scored twice in that period of Hungary dominance. The match was in the 34th minute when Sean St. Ledger slipped and fell backwards as he attempted to withdraw under a cross from the left wing. Szalai brought the ball down expertly but as he turned he scuffed his attempted left foot shot and the ball was gathered comfortably by Given.
Ireland were relieved on that occasion and they had another narrow escape in the 43rd minute. Again it was Szalai who controlled the ball well just inside the penalty. A disguised attempted shot on the turn saw him turn away from Richard Dunne and the delay allowed Stephen Ward get close enough to slide into a tackle.
Ward succeeded brilliantly in getting his heel to the ball as Szalai pulled the trigger and knocked the ball out of the striker's path. The referee then awarded Ireland a free and Ward needed treatment as Szalai shood on his calf.
Ireland looked dangerous in breakaway attacks with Keane and Doyle in lively form. Korcsmar was finally yellow carded for yet another foul on Doyle as he struggled but Ireland's strikers suffered from a lack of an adequate service from midfield and, indeed, from the flanks.
Ireland's manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, made several substitutions throughout the second half and again - as in the most recent game against Bosnia & Herzegovina - they had a positive effect. The powerful Jonathan Walters offered a very vigorous challenge to the Hungarian defenders and the home team were gradually driven into deeper defending positions as they lost a measure of their first half balance.
Before then, however, Szalai again caused Hungary some frustration as he narrowly failed to score. He turned a pass back from the penalty spot towards his team captain, Dzsudtsak and, when he hammered a shot at goal, Szalai got a touch to the speeding ball so Ireland's replacement goalkeeper, Keiren Westwood, was able to make a good save.
Ireland went close in the 55th minute when Duff fired in a corner from the right that found Ward rising outside the far upright to head towards goal. Keane was just a couple of yards from the goal-line and almost got his head to the ball as it flew narrowly wide.
Walters' willingness to shoot at first sight almost yielded dividends in the 65th minute. He took an excellent pass from O'Shea and shot on the turn across the goalkeeper from the right. Bogdan got a touch and Simon Cox closed on the deflection but his shot was charged down as Ireland threatened.
Simon Cox picked up a powerful headed clearance from Dunne in the 77th minute and linked with McGeady before running on to an accurate return pass that gave him a clear sight of goal. Unfortunately his shot lacked power and was gathered by the capable Bogdan.
It was Whelan's turn to be frustrated by the alert goalkeeper as he ran on to a clever pass from Walters. Whelan surged into the penalty area and knocked the ball past an attempted tackler before seeing his shot saved by Bogdan.
Stephen Hunt made a magnificent goal-line clearance in the 83rd minute as Hungary looked about to win the match. A corner from the right was knocked clear of the penalty area and the ball fell kindly for substitute Szabics. His cracking shot from 24 yards flew away from goalkeeper Westwood and was calmly knocked off the line by Hunt, who was standing by the post.
Walters lost a couple of good chances as he and Simon Cox offered Hungary a different challenge. Twice Walters missed opportunities with his head as Ireland succeeded in setting up several late chances. He showed his disappointment in the 85th minute when a free from Darron Gibson flew to him near the penalty spot in a crowded goalmouth. Walters failed to make a clean contact and the chance was lost.
The final chance, and one of the best in the game, fell to Hungary in added time. They showed the capability of breaking quickly out of defence repeatedly throughout the match, never more effectively than on this occasion when substitute Szabics broke clear on the right and his accurate ball across the pitch found another substitute, Nemeth, completely unmarked on the left. He did not delay but struck the ball quickly just a couple of yards outside the penalty area for Westwood to save comfortably. It was an ill-judged effort as Ireland breathed a sigh of relief.
Full-time: Hungary 0 - 0 Republic of Ireland
Hungary: Bogdan; Varga, Meszaros, Gyurcso, Korcsmar, Halmosi, Pinter, Koman, Dzsudtsak, Szakaly, Szalai.
Republic of Ireland: Shay Given (Aston Villa); John O'Shea (Sunderland), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Sean St Ledger (Leicester City), Stephen Ward (Wolves); Damien Duff (Fulham), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Keith Andrews (West Brom), Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow); Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Kevin Doyle (Wolves).
Substitutes: Jon Walters (Stoke City) for Doyle 46; Keiren Westwood (Sunderland) for Given 46; Simon Cox (West Brom) for Keane 60; Stephen Hunt (Wolves) for Duff 63; Darren Gibson (Everton) for Andrews 65; Paul Green for Whelan 84.
Referee: Kenn Hansen (Denmark)