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Slovakia vs Northern Ireland. International Match.

Stadion Antona Malatinskeho.

Slovakia 0-0 Northern Ireland: Goalless draw in Trnava

Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (right) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho S
Image: Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (right) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball

Northern Ireland played out a 0-0 draw against Slovakia in their final friendly before the start of their Euro 2016 campaign.

Preparing for their first ever European Championship, and first major tournament for 30 years since the 1986 World Cup, they held on for a decent result against England's Group B opponents.

Northern Ireland put three past Belarus in their last friendly a week ago in Belfast, but rarely threatened on Saturday night in Trnava. Michael O'Neill's side now have eight days to prepare for their first game in France against Poland next Sunday.

The Irish had a great chance to open the scoring after just eight minutes when Paddy McNair picked out Kyle Lafferty in the box, but the striker saw his low effort strike the arm of Slovakia right-back Peter Pekarik before bouncing clear. The away side appealed for a penalty, but his arm was at his side and it would have been extremely harsh.

Northern Ireland's Patrick McNair during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Pi
Image: Northern Ireland's Patrick McNair (C) in action

Slovakia were probably the better side in the first half and had a decent chance to go ahead on the quarter-hour mark, but Vladimir Weiss could only steer a shot wide from just inside the area when he should have at least hit the target. 

There was concern for Northern Ireland when Craig Cathcart was forced off with injury after 30 minutes, although his departure saw the arrival of Aaron Hughes to win his 100th international cap.

Jonny Evans has praised Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill for experimenting with different teams and tactics ahead of Euro 2016

Robert Mak then really ought to have put Slovakia ahead five minutes before the break, but could only hit his shot straight at Michael McGovern after breaking Northern Ireland's offside trap.

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Slovakia came out of the blocks quickly in the second half, and should have been ahead within two minutes of the restart as Patrik Hrosovsky slipped a superb reverse pass in between two Northern Ireland defenders and into the path of Weiss, but he could only slam the ball over the bar. 

Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (right) and Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty shake hands
Image: Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (right) and Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty shake hands

O'Neill's side then suffered another injury worry as Lafferty hobbled off, although his replacement Conor Washington almost had an immediate impact as he forced Matus Kozacik to save with his legs just before the hour.

Slovakia dominated the final third of the game, despite never truly threatening to score, while Northern Ireland came close in the dying minutes when Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel nearly turned McNair's cross into his own net. 

In the end, though, it was a goalless draw and a result which means that Northern Ireland are unbeaten in 12 games going into the Euros, the longest run of any of the 24 sides in the tournament. 

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