Substitute Simon Cox struck
late to earn Ireland a 1-1 draw against Czech Republic in a
free-flowing Euro 2012 warm-up match at the Aviva Stadium on
The Czechs, who will fancy their chances in the finals with
a group containing Russia, Greece and co-hosts Poland, were the
far more dangerous side and will feel hard done by that striker
Milan Baros' 40th international goal was not enough for victory.
Facing a far tougher task this summer with Spain, Italy and
Croatia between them and a quarter-final place, Ireland carved
out the better early opportunities but strikers Robbie Keane and
Shane Long were unable to make the most of a half chance each.
The visitors' best chance of the first period fell to Jan
Rezek who was denied by a fine save by Irish goalkeeper Shay
Given but the lively front-man proved too much of handful six
minutes after the break when he helped the Czechs into the lead.
Rezek's tidy pass to Baros after drawing three defenders
away from his strike partner left the former Liverpool forward
wide open in front of goal and he curled his finish inside
Given's left hand corner.
Rezek fizzed a shot past the post just before the hour and
with Ireland rarely troubling their opponent's goal, Giovanni
Trapattoni's stubborn side, better known for their resolute
defence than dangerous attacking, looked to be heading for a
first defeat in 12 matches.
Winger James McClean, who has made a big impact for
Sunderland in recent months, came of the bench to a standing
ovation to make his Irish debut but it was another substitute,
West Bromwich Albion's Cox, who rescued the draw.
Cox, on for team-mate Long, latched onto a Keith Andrews
pass on 86 minutes and after gliding past his marker, finished
well from a tight angle to keep Trapattoni's near one-year
unbeaten run in tact.
"It was very important [to stay unbeaten]. I think we were a
little bit flat and like on a lot of occasions, we needed to go
a goal behind to wake us up a little bit," man of the match John
"I think it's something we have to improve on because going
into the European Championships against the calibre of teams
we're playing, we can't afford to give them a goal start."
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