Football | Ireland and Hungary produce scoreless stalemate in Budapest

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The Republic of Ireland have drawn 0-0 with Hungary in an international friendly in Budapest.

Ireland captain John Egan went closest for the visitors, hitting the crossbar with a powerful header in the first half from Josh Cullen’s whipped free kick.

At the other end, Gavin Bazunu and debutant Caoimhin Kelleher made stunning saves to deny Hungary a breakthrough goal.

Hungary, who have drawn France, Germany and Portugal in Euro 2020’s ‘group of death’, entered the match at the Szusza Ferenc Stadion looking for their fourth successive win.

The Hungarian fans booed when the Irish players took the knee before kick-off, while the Hungary players opted to point their fingers at the UEFA respect campaign logo on their sleeves.

Stephen Kenny made two changes to the side which beat Andorra 4-1 last week, with Adam Idah and Shane Duffy coming in to replace James Collins and Ronan Curtis.

The Ireland manager switched to a back five, with Duffy joining Egan and Dara O’Shea in the centre of the Boys in Green’s defence.

Matt Doherty started at right wing back, with James McClean operating on the other flank.

Cullen, Conor Hourihane and Jason Knight started in midfield, with Idah joining Troy Parrott in attack.

Hungary manager Marco Rossi, meanwhile, made six changes to the team which beat Cyprus 1-0 last Friday.

The Boys in Green looked uncomfortable in defence against Hungary’s energised press, with several shaky moments and clearances in the opening stages.

However, Ireland almost took the lead within five minutes as Egan’s thumping header cannoned back off the crossbar from Cullen’s deep free kick wide on the right.

Despite seeing plenty of the ball, Rossi’s hosts were reduced to speculative long shots in the opening half hour.

Hungary skipper Adam Szalai almost gave the hosts the lead in the 39th minute, but Bazunu made a wonderful one-handed diving save to claw the striker’s powerful header away from the top corner.

Hourihane was then well positioned to clear Akos Kecskes’ goal-bound effort from the resulting corner.

The sides went in scoreless at the interval, with Kenny replacing Bazunu with Kelleher for the second half.

Cork native Kelleher produced a smart save to deny Szalai in the 55th minute, before substitute Daryl Horgan almost found Idah in the box with a clever chest and hooked pass, only for Hungary defender Attila Szalai to make a crucial block.

Idah then took aim from 25 yards, but Hungary substitute goalkeeper Adam Bogdan got down well to parry the Norwich forward’s powerful low strike to safety.

In the 81st minute, McClean rose highest at the back post, but his downward header from 12 yards was comfortably saved by Bogdan.

Kelleher then made a brilliant save from Szalai’s header in the closing minutes, before making another excellent save from the resulting corner to divert a powerful strike over the bar with both hands.

James Collins and debutant Chiedozie Ogbene came on in the 89th minute, and the latter almost marked his debut in style.

Ogbene ran on to Horgan’s through ball, but lashed his shot into the side-netting from an acute angle.

The final whistle marked the end of Ireland’s season, and Kenny will no doubt be happy with the Boys in Green’s 10-day training camp.

Next up is Portugal in September.

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