Tuesday, 4 October 2016

How Cruyff stopped Barcelona from selling Guardiola

Former coach of Barcelona, Johan Cruyff, stopped the club from getting rid of Pep Guardiola to a second division club, after he took over at the Camp Nou.

The now Manchester City coach was regarded as a liability by Barca coaches and they were willing to sell him before Cruyff intervened.

He later went on to become one of the best players of the successful Barca team, that won four consecutive league titles from 1991 and 1994. They also won the European Cup in 1992.

But Cruyff in his autobiography, which he wrote before he died in March this year, tells of how he was almost rejected.
“Barca wanted to get rid of him,” Cruyff writes.
“They considered him scrawny, bad defensively and ineffective in the air. What nobody saw was that he had the basic qualities to go far: he had game intelligence, speed in his execution, technique. If I hadn’t been at Barcelona, for sure he would have been sold to a Segunda Division club.”
Cruyff promoted Guardiola to the Barca first team in 1990 when he was only 19.
“I told him that above everything else, you have to be the boss, the one that makes the decisions and is responsible for the consequences. In that sense, Pep followed the same path and guidelines that I did,” he stated.

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Onigbinde urges Rangers to sustain their NPFL momentum

Former Super Eagles coach, Adegboye Onigbinde, has advises the 2015/2016 Nigeria Professional Football League champions, Enugu Rangers, to sustain their new momentum.

The Flying Antelopes won the NPFL on Sunday I'm front of their home fans after 32 years of waiting.

“I want to congratulate them [Enugu Rangers] for their effort and great achievement,” Onigbinde told Goal.

“It takes strong determination, discipline and focus to achieve such success.

“I hope they will be regular at achieving this performance again and come back to their parmanent position in the league.

“This can be best achieved through proper planning, programming, coaching and logistics”, he added.

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FIFA considering 48-team World Cup

FIFA president, Gianni Infantino has revealed the next World Cup might see 16 teams exit the competition after one knockout match.

The president has proposed a 48 teams in the tournament as play-in round added three days before the current 32-team group stage.

Infantino said the proposal will be discussed at a FIFA council next week, before a final decision is taken in January 2017.

“The idea is that 16 teams would qualify directly to the group stage and the other 32 would play in a preliminary phase, in the country where the World Cup is being played – they would play for the remaining 16 places,” Infantino said.

“It means we continue with a normal World Cup for 32 teams, but 48 teams go to the party.”

“FIFA’s idea is to develop football in the whole world, and the World Cup is the biggest event.

“It’s more than a competition, it’s a social event”, he added.

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Tyson Fury makes u-turn on retirement from boxing

British world heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury has addressed his earlier claim of retiring from boxing as a joke, maintaining that he is “here to stay.”

The boxer withdrew from the 29 October rematch with Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko, due reported mental health issues tweeted, “I’m the greatest, and also retired.”

Three hours later, Fury took to his social media, asserting that his earlier claim had been a joke.

He tweeted, “Hahahaha, you think you will get rid of the Gypsy King that easy?”

“I’m here to stay. #TheGreatest. Just shows you what the media are like. Tut tut.

“Soon as I get better I’ll be defending what’s mine – the heavyweight throne.”

“Good news is I’m getting the right help and I’ll be back even stronger than before, try and stop me!”

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Sunday, 5 June 2016

Ramirez: Two points lost for Costa Rica

Oscar Ramirez lamented Costa Rica's 0-0 draw against Paraguay at the Copa America Centenario, with the coach left feeling like two points were lost.
Costa Rica and Paraguay shared the spoils in warm conditions in their Copa America Group A opener on Saturday.
Both sides struggled to create any real cleat-cut chances in Orlando, Florida but Ramirez was still disappointed post-match.
"We struggled in the first 20 minutes when they really controlled the game," said Ramirez.

"But I thought that after the break we were able to dominate them in the way they had dominated us and in the end we had the chances to win the game.
"It feels like two points lost rather than a point gained."
The heat and humidity were factors for both teams throughout at Camping World Stadium and Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz added: "The heat definitely affected the game.
"It could have been a much better game in different conditions." 
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Peru deserved to beat Haiti - Gareca

After opening their Copa America Centenario campaign with a 1-0 victory over Haiti, coach Ricardo Gareca insisted Peru were deserved winners in Seattle.
Semi-finalists at last year's Copa America, record-breaking striker Paolo Guerrero scored the only goal of the match as Peru opened the centenary edition in winning fashion on Saturday.
Peru were the superior outfit throughout against the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-finalists at CenturyLink Field and had to wait until the hour-mark to break the deadlock after Edison Flores hit the post in the first half.
Speaking afterwards, Gareca said: "It was a tough game as we expected. Haiti played good. [But] Peru deservedly won the game, and it was demonstrated during the 90 minutes.
"I have to congratulate my players, because it is good debut win in Copa America.
"We must continue to improve. It is the beginning of a cup. We won with a close score, but with a favourable process. I saw my team tried, had mobility, played short and long. The result is fair and I remain calm with the team's performance."
Guerrero's match-winning goal was particularly significant as he became Peru's outright all-time leading goalscorer with 27, leapfrogging Teofilo Cubillas.
"Guerrero is very important, so it transmits and for what it represents for the group," Gareca added.
"My assessment is very high on him. I know what it means to the country for him. It is very important that he has made a goal. Over time, the boys will understand more with Paolo."

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Carvalho: Mourinho can emulate Ferguson

Ricardo Carvalho has backed Jose Mourinho to follow in the footsteps of Alex Ferguson and win trophies at Manchester United.
Mourinho has been tasked with returning United to the Premier League summit after replacing former manager Louis van Gaal on a three-year deal.
With a point to prove at Old Trafford following his split from Chelsea during the London club's horrendous title defence, Carvalho - who played under Mourinho at Stamford Bridge and Real Madrid - is confident his countryman will lead United to their first Premier League trophy since 2012-13.
"I know that Jose will be a success at Manchester United," said Monaco's Carvalho, who is preparing for Euro 2016 with Portugal.
"I have no doubt that he can bring trophies back to United again and that he will make them champions.
"I don't know if it will be in the first year, the second year or the third, but he will win the title again. My prediction is that it will be in the second year.
"United have struggled since Alex Ferguson retired, but Jose can be the one to replace him.
"He will not worry what went before. He will want to make his own success.
"Jose deserves to be at the biggest clubs because he is one of the top coaches.
"He has the quality to make Manchester United win again."
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#CopaAmerica2016: Brazil 0 Ecuador 0: Honours even as Valencia has goal disallowed

Neither Brazil nor Ecuador could break the deadlock as the Copa America Centenario Group B fixture ended goalless in Pasadena.
After a lively start at the Rose Bowl, Saturday's match petered out to a 0-0 draw, though the storyline was a disallowed goal for Ecuador, who were unfortunate not to claim all three points.
Enner Valencia's cross-cum-shot somehow found the back of the net from the byline after a howler from Brazil goalkeeper Alisson, but the ball was deemed to have gone out of play.
Brazil were forced into two changes after edging Panama in their final pre-Copa fixture, with Miranda dropping to the bench due to a muscle problem in the build-up. Luiz Gustavo dropped out of the squad completely because of personal problems during the week, while Douglas Santos made way as Marquinhos, Casemiro and Filipe Luis came into the line-up.
After missing Ecuador's 1-0 loss to the United States, Antonio Valencia returned to the starting XI, along with captain Walter Ayovi and Arturo Mina at the expense of Frickson Erazo, Cristian Ramirez and Angel Mena. Esteban Dreer replaced injured goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.

Unlike the two early games on Saturday, the clash in Pasadena was lively from kick-off with chances at both ends, as Brazil captain Neymar watched from the stands after opting to skip the Copa America in favour of the Olympic Games in August.
Miller Bolanos went close for Ecuador after almost curling the ball inside the post from outside of the penalty area but the best opportunity fell to Philippe Coutinho, who was somehow denied by Dreer from point-blank range in the sixth minute.
As the half wore on, space opened up across the pitch with Brazil dictating play but Ecuador remaining a threat on the counter, though neither side could make the breakthrough before the interval.
Brazil keeper Alisson was spared embarrassment past the hour-mark after Enner Valencia found the back of the net from the byline but the ball was adjudged to have just crossed the line by officials.
That was the highlight of the second half, after an entertaining start to proceedings, which was reflected in the stands as the Mexican wave swept through the stadium.
Substitute Lucas Moura, though, did come close to earning maximum points with 10 minutes remaining as Dreer hesitated but the Paris Saint-Germain speedster's header flashed wide.

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#CopaAmerica2016: Diaz questions Copa scheduling

Paraguay coach Ramon Diaz was unhappy with the scheduling of his side's clash against Costa Rica as they were held to a 0-0 draw at the Copa America Centenario.
There were few chances in the Group A clash at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on Saturday.
Warm conditions made for a slow tempo, particularly in the second half, and Diaz was far from impressed with the scheduling.
"It's crazy to play at the time we played," he said.
"I would like to see a little more consideration and respect for the real protagonists, who are the players."
Despite the result, the Argentinian said he was content with his side's display in their Copa opener.
Paraguay had looked the more likely to score throughout, while Costa Rica had Kendall Waston sent off in additional time.
"We controlled the ball, but were just missing a goal," Diaz said.
"I'm satisfied. Personally, I liked the team. The players made a huge effort and a good match was played."
Paraguay's next outing is a clash against group-leaders Colombia on Tuesday.
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#CopaAmerica2016: Haiti 0 Peru 1: Record-breaker Guerrero scores winner

Record-breaker Paolo Guerrero inspired Peru to a 1-0 win over Haiti in their Copa America Centenario opener on Saturday. 
Guerrero scored the only goal of the game at the CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington as Peru begin the special-edition tournament with an important win. 
The goal also meant 32-year-old Guerrero moved above Teofilo Cubillas as outright all-time leading goalscorer for the national team with 27. 
Peru were the better team throughout the game and should have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time when Guerrero set up Edison Flores, but the 22-year-old smashed his shot off the post. 
But Flores managed to return the favour in the 61st minute, putting in a delightful cross to Guerrero, who lost his man and converted the winning goal with a diving header. 
The win puts Peru top of Group B, with Brazil still to face Ecuador later in the day.
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca made a host of changes from the side's 3-1 win over El Salvador in their final warm-up game for the Copa, with Guerrero the biggest inclusion. 
Sao Paulo's Christian Cueva also made it into the starting XI and almost had an immediate impact, but his shot in the fourth minute went straight to Haiti goalkeeper Johnny Placide.
Peru continued to threaten in the opening stages and Guerrero's cutback found Alejandro Hohberg in the box, but the 24-year-old fluffed his shot. 
A poor giveaway by the Peruvian midfield gave Kevin Lafrance a chance to attack the defence, but after dribbling into the area he was unable to get a proper shot away. 
As the half went on, Haiti were able to gain more confidence and had a great chance to take the lead in the 28th minute after Alberto Rodriguez gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position. 
However, Mechack Jerome could not find the target from the edge of the area, hitting his set-piece just over the crossbar. 
A long-range effort from Peru's Renato Tapia went well wide of Placide's goal, before Guerrero blasted a volley wide just a minute later after being found unmarked in the box by Cueva.
Haiti coach Patrice Neveu was seemingly unimpressed with Max Hilaire's contribution in the first half, replacing the Cholet midfielder with Jean Alexandre before the 40th-minute mark, much to the 30-year-old's displeasure. 
The best chance of the opening period then fell Peru's way in the closing stages, but Flores' shot cannoned off the post after he was teed up by Guerrero.
Peru looked the most likely to open the scoring in the second half, and defender Renzo Revoredo had a great chance blocked by the onrushing Placide. 
But the South Americans would have to wait just 60 seconds to take the lead, with Flores' cross setting up Guerrero for the diving header just after the hour-mark.
Some great build-up play from Peru led to another chance for Guerrero in the 65th minute, but the Flamengo striker's shot was stopped by Placide.
Haiti pushed in the closing stages and almost found a dramatic equaliser in the 94th minute, but substitute Kervens Belfort put a close-range header wide, much to the relief of the Peruvians.
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Suarez ruled out of Uruguay's Copa America opener

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has confirmed Luis Suarez will not take part in his team's Copa America Centenario opener against Mexico on Sunday. 
Suarez limped off in the second half of Barcelona's Copa del Rey final triumph against Sevilla a fortnight ago. 
The 29-year-old suffered a right hamstring injury and was reduced to tears, leading to fears he would miss Uruguay's entire Copa America campaign.
Suarez arrived in the United States this week and has been training away from the main group as he looks to regain his fitness.
However, Tabarez confirmed on Saturday that Suarez would miss their Group C opener against Mexico, and he could not put a timeframe on his return. 
"Luis Suarez is ruled out [against Mexico]," the 69-year-old confirmed in his pre-game news conference. 
"He is a footballer that always surprises us with his recovery, but he is not ready yet. 
"It's only been 14 days since his injury.
"We will consider him when he demonstrates that he is at 100 per cent."
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Ibrahimovic: I'm still getting better

Zlatan Ibrahimovic insists he is only getting better as the Swede reportedly inches closer to a Manchester United move.
The 34-year-old is coming off another impressive campaign at Paris Saint-Germain, scoring 50 goals in 51 appearances in all competitions.
Ibrahimovic, who is preparing for Euro 2016 with Sweden, is reportedly close to sealing a move to Old Trafford as his next destination.
The striker said he was still getting better despite approaching his 35th birthday.
"Whether I am 34 or 35, I have never had a better season than this," Ibrahimovic told the Daily Mirror.
"I am still developing as a player, but it is all about getting the job done - and I do a hell of a job."
Ibrahimovic said he had proven he was still capable of performing, having helped PSG to four straight Ligue 1 titles.
"I have proved that I still have a young mind," he said.
"The mental part is 50 per cent of football and that has never been a problem for me."
Ibrahimovic and Co. will take on Belgium, Italy and the Republic of Ireland in Group E at Euro 2016, which starts on June 10.
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#CopaAmerica2016: Costa Rica 0 Paraguay 0: Dull draw at Copa

Paraguay and Costa Rica played out a dull 0-0 draw in the Copa America Centenario on Saturday.
The Group A clash never reached any great heights at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida as the teams shared the spoils in warm conditions.
Jorge Benitez had the best chance of the game early on, but his poor attempt at a finish illustrated the struggles of both sides.
With men behind the ball throughout, Costa Rica were left to try and make the most of set-pieces and Bryan Ruiz's first-half header was as close as they got.
Costa Rica were reduced to 10 men in additional time as Kendall Waston was sent off for a crude late challenge.
A draw always looked the most likely result as the teams were left behind Colombia, who had a tournament-opening win over hosts the United States.
Ramon Diaz made three changes to the Paraguay team beaten by Mexico, with Fabian Balbuena, Blas Riveros and Antonio Sanabria making way for Miguel Samudio, Gustavo Gomez and Dario Lezcano.
One of Costa Rica's two inclusions - Yeltsin Tejeda - made his presence felt immediately, picking up a yellow card for a rash sliding challenge inside 20 seconds.
Oscar Ramirez is without goalkeeper Keylor Navas, the Real Madrid shot-stopper having suffered an Achilles injury to rule him out of the tournament.
Paraguay controlled the opening exchanges and should have made the most of their dominance in the 13th minute.
Benitez was played in behind by Derlis Gonzalez, but the Cruz Azul forward scuffed his shot across the face of goal.
Paulo da Silva headed a great chance just wide from the resulting corner.
Costa Rica almost made Paraguay pay for the misses as Joel Campbell picked out Ruiz with a set-piece, but the captain's header was straight at Justo Villar.
While Diaz's men looked the more likely, Costa Rica settled into the encounter as the half wore on.
Neither team was able to penetrate to start the second half, with Bruno Valdez threatening for Paraguay - but he was unable to get enough on a 71st-minute corner.
A scuffle in the dying stages brought some much-needed life to the encounter and substitute Cristian Bolanos forced a save out of Villar in the 88th minute before Waston was red-carded for a late challenge on Nelson Valdez.

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Kane can be as good as Ibra and Ronaldo - Klinsmann

Jurgen Klinsmann has backed Tottenham striker Harry Kane to become as good as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Germany World Cup winner Klinsmann is a hero at Tottenham having enjoyed two prolific spells at White Hart Lane as a player during the 1990s.
The terrace favourite these days is Kane, who topped the Premier League goalscoring charts with 25 last season as Tottenham fell away from title contention to finish third.
Despite missing out on the top prize, Kane will still grace the Champions League next season and is set to lead the line for England at Euro 2016.
And Klinsmann believes playing in such highly competitive tournaments can only help the 22-year-old improve his game.
"I adore Harry Kane. I love him," United States coach Klinsmann told The Sunday Mirror. "I really like the way he has developed over the last few years, looking at it from the outside, I have constantly said to people that it is really nice to see the younger players stay grounded, staying normal.
"You don't get a sense of any of the players losing sight of where they are which is very important and great to see. You don't want to see them become big headed.
"The opposite really is the case with him and that is very good to see. With Harry he seems to be getting hungrier every day because he wants to win trophies and make a real name for himself.
"Spurs have a wonderful group of players and the manager really has some fantastic options at his disposal.
"His goalscoring record is beautiful and deserves huge compliments," added the World Cup winning German. But the next game is coming up and so too is the next test. 
"That is the beauty of top level football - there is always something coming up. To have Champions League football for Harry is very important for his development as a player. 
"That is a huge challenge as is playing in the Euros this summer. It's a big leap forward but it's fantastic for him to have the opportunity to show what he can do.
"Of course there are fantastic strikers at a tournament like the Euros. Zlatan, Ronaldo and the others. Can he be as good as them? Yeah, only time will tell."

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O'Neill plays down Lafferty and Cathcart injury scares

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has allayed injury concerns over Kyle Lafferty and Craig Cathcart after both players were substituted in Saturday's 0-0 draw with Slovakia.
Cathcart was withdrawn in the first half, with Aaron Hughes coming on to collect his landmark 100th cap, while Lafferty was replaced early in the second period after collecting a knock.
But O'Neill - who was unimpressed by some of Slovakia's challenges - revealed both players were taken off only as a precaution, as Northern Ireland extended their record unbeaten run to 12 matches.
"They're both fine. It was precautionary," O'Neill said of Lafferty's calf injury and Cathcart's back problem.
"Cathcart got a bad challenge, I thought. Obviously it was let go, like many.
"Kyle just had a little bit of a tight calf from a kick. We had planned to take off Kyle on 60-65 minutes. He wanted to stay on but there was no sense in it, and the same with Craig. If it was the Poland game in that situation and we needed them, they wouldn't have come off.
"They [Slovakia] are playing at home, the stadium's full and off the back of [the 3-1 win over] Germany, I'm sure they wanted to give the supporters a send-off and win the game.
"I felt that some of the challenges under normal circumstances would have been punished with a yellow card but weren't. I thought the referee was lenient in favour of the home side at times. That's understandable."
Slovakia head coach Jan Kozak, meanwhile, was pleased with his side's progress as they prepare to open their maiden European Championship campaign against Wales next Saturday.
"They [Germany and Northern Ireland] were two different matches, obviously," he said.
"We play there in different positions - home and away - in both matches we had to be cautious, especially in the defence.
"Nevertheless, I believe our players are very dominant, they are able to play and I hope they will show this in Euro 2016."

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Messi trains alone ahead of Argentina's Copa America opener

Lionel Messi trained alone on Saturday as Argentina continued their preparations for their Copa America Centenario opener against Chile.
Albiceleste captain Messi had to be substituted after sustaining a knock to his back during his country's friendly against Honduras last week, sparking fears he may not be fit in time for Monday's re-run of the 2015 Copa final in Santa Clara.
Messi is back with Gerardo Martino's squad in California after returning to Barcelona to give evidence in a tax fraud trial against him and his father in midweek, but the Ballon d'Or holder was unable to train with his team-mates.
A statement on the Argentine Football Association's official website read: "Lionel Messi and Lucas Biglia trained separately, while Javier Pastore and Ezequiel Lavezzi participated in the group play with a ball and then practiced apart."
It remains to be seen whether Messi will take part in Sunday's final training session before the Chile match.

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France 3 Scotland 0: Giroud answers critics as Euro 2016 hosts turn on the style

Olivier Giroud went some way to silencing the boo-boys by scoring twice as France rounded off their preparations for Euro 2016 with a classy 3-0 beating of Scotland in Metz.
Arsenal striker Giroud was on the scoresheet in Monday's unconvincing 3-2 win over Cameroon, but was still largely jeered by the Nantes crowd.
But Giroud's impressive international form continued against a poor Scotland team, opening the scoring with a clever flick before following up Dimitri Payet's saved shot to make it seven goals in as many France outings.
Laurent Koscielny's first international goal made it 3-0 before the break and the only surprise was that no more arrived in the second half, although Paul Pogba did strike the post.
Giroud, whose domestic position is seemingly under threat with Arsenal heavily linked with Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, was part of a wider impressive showing from the hosts.
Payet was the driving force in a dangerous attack before being replaced at half-time, while Blaise Matuidi, N'Golo Kante and Pogba were superb in midfield.
Bigger tests lay in wait for France and Giroud, but head coach Didier Deschamps has plenty of cause for optimism ahead of the hosts' Euro 2016 opener versus Romania in Paris on Friday.
A remote-controlled car delivered the ball to the centre circle pre kick-off and France were immediately in the driving seat with Giroud forcing David Marshall into a top-drawer save when he directed Payet's free-kick goalward.
The Arsenal striker had his first goal in the eighth minute, though. Bacary Sagna crossed low from the right and Giroud's clever backheel flick had the beating of the Scotland goalkeeper.
France remained in the ascendancy and Kingsley Coman's 20-yard drive brought the best out of Marshall, but it was deservedly 2-0 in the 35th minute. 
The excellent Payet brilliantly surged through the Scottish defence and, although his edge-of-the-box shot was parried by Marshall, Giroud slid in to prod home the rebound.
Marshall then saved smartly at close range from Matuidi, but from the following corner Koscielny nodded home inside the six-yard box when Payet's delivery was flicked towards the back post by Patrice Evra.
Antoine Griezmann and Anthony Martial replaced Payet and Coman at half-time, the former getting his first Euro 2016 warm-up run out having featured in Atletico Madrid's Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid last weekend.
France continued to dominate as Pogba saw a goalbound effort deflected wide and the Juventus midfielder went even closer just after the hour when his 25-yard free-kick cannoned off the left-hand post.
Martial proved a menace for France down the left, while Pogba landed a speculative long-range free-kick on the roof of the net.
Yohan Cabaye and Griezmann went close late on, but the damage had long since been done as an impressive France marched on towards what they hope will be a triumphant tournament on home soil.
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Slovakia 0 Northern Ireland 0: Injury scares for O'Neill's men

Slovakia and Northern Ireland played out a 0-0 draw in Trnava as both sides completed their preparation for Euro 2016, but injuries marred a solid defensive performance by Michael O'Neill's men.
Striker Kyle Lafferty and defender Craig Cathcart went off after picking up knocks, with Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley also on the receiving end of heavy Slovakia challenges.
Aaron Hughes made history when he became the first outfield player to reach 100 appearances for Northern Ireland after replacing Cathcart.
Slovakia's Vladimir Weiss had the best chances of the game, twice missing the target from good positions, while Michael McGovern saved from Robert Mak and Matus Kozacik denied Conor Washington.
Both teams continue their excellent form thanks to the draw, with Northern Ireland now unbeaten in 12 matches, while Slovakia have not lost any of their last eight international fixtures.
Slovakia take on England, Russia and Wales in Group B at Euro 2016, while Northern Ireland have been drawn in Group C with Ukraine, Poland and world champions Germany.
Lafferty felt he should have had an early penalty when his shot was blocked by Peter Pekarik's arm, but referee Radu Petrescu was unmoved.
Slovakia winger Weiss shot narrowly wide from a good opening after 14 minutes when Dusan Svento robbed Paddy McNair and pulled a low cross back to the edge of the area.
O'Neill was then dealt a blow when Watford defender Cathcart limped off, which allowed Hughes to come on and collect his landmark 100th cap.
Mak should have put Slovakia ahead when he broke through the offside trap, but McGovern was quickly off his line to make a fine save.
Northern Ireland were almost gifted a goal just before half-time when Kozacik spilled Chris Baird's drilled free-kick, but the goalkeeper recovered before Steven Davis could tap in the rebound.
Patrik Hrosovsky carved the Northern Ireland back line open for Weiss shortly after the interval, but he missed again, lifting his shot over the onrushing McGovern and the crossbar.
There was another injury scare for the visitors when Lafferty went off after a picking up a knock, then his replacement Washington, who had scored in two of his three previous caps for Northern Ireland, cut inside and forced a good save from Kozacik.
Juraj Kucka mis-hit a shot wide after 67 minutes, with Jan Kozak's side looking the more likely scorers, then Marek Hamsik just missed Pekarik's excellent right-wing cross.
Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel almost scored a late own goal to hand Northern Ireland victory, but Kozacik made a reaction block to preserve his clean sheet as the match petered out.
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Austria 0 Netherlands 2: Janssen and Wijnaldum silence vociferous Vienna crowd

Goals either side of half-time from Vincent Janssen and Georginio Wijnaldum ensured Austria rounded off their Euro 2016 preparations with a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Netherlands.
The boisterous home fans at Vienna's Ernst-Happel-Stadion did their best to rouse Austria by creating an atmosphere that belied the fact this was only a friendly, but the hosts' defensive frailties let them down.
Marcel Koller's team looked dangerous going forward, but they lacked the ruthlessness of Netherlands - whose performance made further mockery of their inexplicable failure to qualify for the European Championship.
AZ striker Janssen, the Eredivisie's top scorer in 2015-16, headed the visitors in front in the ninth minute after taking advantage of some lax marking from Sebastian Prodl and Aleksandar Dragovic.
Austria pressed for an equaliser before and after the break, but were caught cold in the 66th minute when Wijnaldum rounded off an excellent team move with an inch-perfect finish.
The Newcastle United man's strike took the wind out of the home support's sails, and Koller must now lift his side ahead of their Euro 2016 opener against Hungary on June 14.
Marko Arnautovic fashioned the first attempt on goal out of nothing, the mercurial Stoke City forward producing an outrageous overhead kick that had Jeroen Zoet scrambling to tip wide.
But Janssen silenced the home fans by grabbing the opening goal against the run of play.
The home defence inexplicably froze after a Steven Berghuis cross from the right deflected high into the air, and Netherlands' number nine ghosted in behind a static backline before nodding past Robert Almer from close range.
Austria should have been level three minutes later. Zoet produced a fine reaction save low to his right after David Alaba teed up Zlatko Junuzovic, before Marc Janko sliced his follow-up into the side netting from no more than five yards.
The hosts continued to push forward, but were nearly undone by another deflection 10 minutes before the break when a long-range effort from Wijnaldum struck Dragovic and looped over the helpless Almer, only to be denied by the post.
Janssen could have doubled his tally for the evening early in the second half but he volleyed Berghuis' whipped cross over the bar before Alaba fired off-target at the other end a little more than 60 seconds later.
Netherlands were happy to absorb pressure and counter, and Quincy Promes should have increased their lead on the hour when he scuffed a tame effort wide after good work down the left from Patrick van Aanholt.
Janssen was then withdrawn having seemingly picked up a knock, but his replacement Luuk de Jong had an immediate impact, cushioning Promes' cross into the path of the onrushing Wijnaldum, who curled expertly beyond Almer.

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Croatia 10 San Marino 0: Mandzukic, Kalinic net hat-tricks

Mario Mandzukic and Nikola Kalinic each netted a treble as Croatia demolished San Marino 10-0 in their last friendly before their Euro 2016 opener against Turkey on June 12.
Against weak opposition, Croatia head coach Ante Cacic decided to field his strongest XI, with Luka Modric getting the nod in midfield after his Champions League success with Real Madrid, while Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and Mandzukic also featured from the start.
Croatia were on top right from the opening whistle, but needed 20 minutes to break the deadlock via Marko Pjaca.
Mandzukic and Darijo Srna then made it 3-0 within four minutes of the opener, before Mandzukic completed his hat-trick and Perisic also added his name to the scoresheet to make it 6-0 at half-time.
Rakitic continued the rout early in the second period after being set up by Srna, before making way for Andrej Kramaric, while Kalinic took Mandzukic's place up front.
Kalinic immediately showed his worth as he make it 8-0 within three minutes of his introduction, then doubled his tally in the 73rd minute before completing his treble with six minutes left.
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