Defensive display saves Ireland

PA Sport
Ireland goalkeepers Shay Given and Keiren Westwood were in fine form against Hungary
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Ireland goalkeepers Shay Given and Keiren Westwood were in fine form against Hungary

Shay Given and John O'Shea proved their fitness ahead of Euro 2012 as Ireland extended their unbeaten run to 14 games with a goalless draw against Hungary.

Given excelled on his return from a knee injury before making a half-time exit, while O'Shea was given the full 90 minutes to prepare him for Sunday's opening Group C fixture against Croatia in Poznan.

Ireland demonstrated the resilience which helped them qualify for the finals, although they failed to take any of the chances they created. Hungary controlled much of the game, and if not for Given and replacement Keiren Westwood, they might have sent Giovanni Trapattoni's men on their way to Poland on the back of a first defeat since March last year.

A spectacular thunderstorm over the Ferenc Puskas Stadium delayed the kick-off for 20 minutes and left the pitch slick, and once proceedings got under way Ireland found their hosts in little mood to give them an easy ride.

Dinamo Moscow midfielder Balazs Dzsudzsak was the main source of employment for Given, first testing him with a skidding 17th-minute drive and then forcing him to make a fine save seconds later. The ball took a wicked deflection and he somehow managed to get back across and claw it away to safety one-handed.

Skipper Robbie Keane had already tested goalkeeper Adam Bogdan with a well-struck drive, but as Adam Pinter and Vladimir Koman got on top in the middle of the field, the home side began to make the running.

Richard Dunne made a perfectly-timed sliding tackle to deny Peter Szakaly a clear run on goal and Stephen Ward had to be equally resilient to dispossess striker Adam Szalai in the final minute of the half after he had worked his way into a shooting position inside the box.

Substitute Westwood had little time to settle after the break as Hungary resumed where they had left off with Sean St Ledger and Glenn Whelan having to make important blocks, before the Sunderland goalkeeper proved his worth by getting down well to keep out another Dzsudzsak shot after it had been deflected towards goal by Szalai.

Walters forced a rare save from Bogdan and then drilled a right-foot shot across the face of goal, but Simon Cox might have snatched the win with 12 minutes remaining.

Dunne's towering defensive header set Aiden McGeady away and he played the ball into the path of the striker, whose shot was firm but did not elude the ever-vigilant Bogdan.

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