Skrtel and Pekarik keep England at bay as Slovakia stand firm to claim a point
Hardly anyone expected an attractive and exciting display by Slovakia in Monday's goalless draw with England, and coach Jan Kozak relied on such heavy defending that it sometimes reminded fans of Greece's style of play at Euro 2004.
Slovakia played the same XI as the one that defeated Russia 2-1 but were not as dangerous in attack this time around. The defence, led by Liverpool's Martin Skrtel and his centre-back partner Jan Durica, only let five of England's 29 attempts on goal trouble goalkeeper Matus Kozacik.
Kozak's men did not take any risks as they looked for the point that would claim third place in the group. If that turns out to be enough and Slovakia reach the round of 16, they'll need to be more courageous going forward.
Player Ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Matus Kozacik, 9 -- Viktoria Plzen's goalkeeper made a couple of mistakes in the previous two matches, but he showed why he is No.1 with his performance against Roy Hodgson's side. He stopped some clear chances and cooperated very well with his defence.
DF Peter Pekarik, 8 -- Although he played with a broken nose for most of the match, he was not hindered. Pekarik was completely solid in defence and tried to go forward as much as possible.
DF Martin Skrtel, 8 -- After a series of unconvincing performances for the national team and Liverpool, Slovakia's captain was back to his best. Aside from being outpaced by Jamie Vardy in the first half, he made no mistakes in one of the best performances of his 11-year international career.
DF Jan Durica, 8 -- Might have convinced a lot of interested scouts with this performance. Worked well with Skrtel and his assuredness calmed his teammates when the pressure was on.
DF Tomas Hubocan, 8 -- In a tough situation with attack-minded winger Vladimir Weiss in front of him. A majority of England's attacks came down their side but they were up to the challenge.
MF Viktor Pecovsky, 7 -- Important in the holding midfielder role, he helped his defenders by disrupting England's build-up in midfield. In the first half, he stopped a dangerous England counterattack, even if he did get a yellow card for his troubles.
MF Juraj Kucka, 6 -- Is in a great form at this tournament but this was not one of his better games as he lost possession regularly. Has to be more dominant and visible in the next matches.
MF Robert Mak, 7 -- Came agonisingly close to opening the scoring in the second half but wasn't quite alive to the chance. After Chris Smalling's huge mistake in the penalty area, Mak almost got the ball right in front of Joe Hart but couldn't quite get there. Carried on despite suffering an injury.
MF Marek Hamsik, 7 -- Very calm on the ball and dictated the tempo of the play when in possession. His teammates tried to find him often during Slovakia's rare attacks and Hamsik was also important in relieving the pressure on Slovakia's defence with his frequent pressing and great stamina. Simply, his attacking skills were sacrificed by a coach looking for a draw.
MF Vladimir Weiss, 6 -- When he got close to Hart, his technique was dangerous for England's defenders. However, the defensive side of his game needs work and is a reason why he has not become a top class player yet. Needlessly lost possession at times too.
MF Ondrej Duda, 7 -- Performed how everyone expected him to, pressing the English defenders when they had the ball and using his high energy to run tirelessly.
DF Dusan Svento, 7 -- He came on with the same target as against Russia -- to support Hubocan of the left side of the defence. Managed to do so without any problems.
DF Norbert Gyomber, 7 -- Hugely helped Skrtel and Durica in defence thanks to his height and heading abilities.
DF Milan Skriniar, N/R -- It was the first serious test at international level for 21-year-old centre-back, who performed reliably.
Lukas Vrablik is ESPN FC's Slovakia blogger for Euro 2016. Twitter: @LukasVrablik