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Football | Shootout heartbreak for Ireland in Slovakia

The Republic of Ireland have lost 4-2 on penalties to Slovakia in their Euro 2021 play-off semi-final.

Alan Browne and Matt Doherty missed their spot kicks in the shootout after a scoreless draw in Bratislava.

Defeat means Ireland will miss out on Euro 2021 entirely, while Slovakia will progress to the play-off final against Northern Ireland, who beat Bosnia 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Sarajevo.

Marek Hamsik, Patrik Hrosovsky, Lukas Haraslin and Jan Gregus all converted their penalties for the hosts, with Conor Hourihane and Robbie Brady scoring for Ireland.

It is a heartbreaking result for the Boys in Green, who carved out several massive chances in the Slovakian fog.

There were few surprises in Stephen Kenny's line up, with a familiar back four of Doherty, Shane Duffy, John Egan and Enda Stevens starting ahead of Darren Randolph.

Jeff Hendrick and Conor Hourihane joined James McCarthy in midfield, with Callum Robinson and James McClean operating on the wings behind lone striker David McGoldrick.

Chances were at a premium in the opening 45 minutes, with James McClean going closest for Ireland.

In the 37th minute, Doherty's deep cross found Robinson at the back post.

The West Brom forward pulled it back to McClean, whose low, goal-bound shot was cleared by Valjent.

Duda had two chances in quick succession for the hosts late in the first half.

First, he forced Randolph into an excellent save from a sharp shot, before sending an overhead kick wide from the resulting corner.

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The introduction of Robbie Brady and Alan Browne for McClean and the injured McCarthy gave Ireland more creativity and threat in the final third.

Slovakia's best chance of the game came in the 73rd minute.

Hamsik's long, raking pass from deep caught Doherty out of position, with the Spurs defender only able to get a light touch on the ball.

Haraslin collected, and fired a low shot past Randolph, but Duffy was there on the line to make a stunning block, and Randolph dives on the loose ball.

Browne had a big chance to fire Ireland ahead soon after his introduction.

McGoldrick held the ball up brilliantly in the middle, twisting and turning before feeding the marauding Stevens.

Stevens picked out Browne in the box with a sharp pass, and the Preston midfielder took a good touch before shooting powerfully.

However, his shot was too close to Rodak, who parried behind for a corner.

Hourihane missed Ireland's best chance with five minutes of normal time remaining.

McGoldrick embarked on a wonderful run, weaving past multiple Slovakian defenders on the edge of the box before threading the ball through to Robinson.

Robinson pulled the ball back to Brady, who calmly squared it to Hourihane, but the Aston Villa midfielder can only make weak contact with his right foot, and his effort from eight yards was blocked off the line by Kucka.

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Ireland almost took the lead in the opening minute of extra time.

Rodak flapped at a Brady corner under pressure from Duffy, before Doherty's measured cross at the back post picked out Browne in the box.

The lively Preston midfielder directed a good header back towards goal, but Denis Vavro was on hand to clear off the line for the hosts.

Slovakia then had a chance at the other end, with Haraslin volleying over after a kind deflection picked him out at the back post.

Kenny then introduced Callum O'Dowda in place of Robinson.

The winger almost provided an assist for Browne, but the Cork midfielder could only flick O'Dowda's drilled low cross against the butt of the post late in the first half of extra time.

Shane Long was introduced in place of McGoldrick - who produced another mammoth shift leading the line - for the final 10 minutes.

Brady fired a free kick into the side-netting with five minutes remaining, but that was the last chance of note in Bratislava.

You can relive all the action as it happened here.

 

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