Five lessons from Ireland's late draw with Serbia

Ireland travelled to Belgrade to kick off their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign against Serbia, and after there were concerns that the match could be called off after torrential rain, O'Neill's side kicked the game off in style.

Jeff Hendrick gave the visitors a flawless start when he struck home in the third minute for his first worldwide goal, although Serbia capitalised on their pressure when Filip Kostic equalised an hour later.

Filip Kostic deservedly drew Serbia level just after the hour and then won a penalty, which Dusan Tadic duly converted and looked as though it would be the victor.

Newcastle's new signing Daryl Murphy rescued a point for the Republic with an 80th minute equaliser after the visitors had fallen behind to two second half Serbian goals in a seven-minute spell.

Darren Randolph was the Irish man of the match and at times they lived dangerously.

With James McCarthy ruled out through injury, Glenn Whelan will occupy his familiar sitting in front of the back-four and he's joined by Burnley's new recruit Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady, James McClean and Jon Walters.

But Murphy grasped a positive conclusion to a potentially damaging evening, heading home Brady's corner to send his side into their home clash with Georgia and Moldova away next month with something to build upon, if with questions to be answered.

Kostic levelled when he swept home a rebound from a goalmouth scramble in the 62nd minute before he won a penalty after being hauled down by an Irish defender.

Boss O'Neill may be satisfied with a share of the spoils, a return they only got due to Novak's mystifying second-half close-range blunder, but the manner of performance suggested there is plenty to do if they are to reach Russian Federation in 2018.

"We took an early lead and defended strongly after that".

But it was Serbia who reacted more positively to the early goal as the home side went-on to dominate Ireland for most of the game.

"He knew he couldn't be going too long without scoring, he's had a few chances now, he saved us and he deserves it".

That was as good as it got for Northern Ireland and any hopes the rust would be shaken off after the break proved unfounded. I thought we thwarted them well.

Penalty, as Walters clips Kostic's heels as the pair run on to a Mladenovic pass. Tadic drills home his ninth global goal from the spot-kick and Serbia lead.



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