Daryl Murphy breaks his international duck to rescue a precious point for Ireland in Belgrade
Serbia 2-2 Ireland
Published 05/09/2016 | 20:32
A late Daryl Murphy header secured Ireland a 2-2 draw against Serbia in opening round of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Waterford striker benefited from some very poor Serbian marking to hit the net for the first time in his international career in the closing minutes.
Ireland had seen their half time lead turn into a 2-1 deficit following goals from Filip Kostic and Dusan Tadic. Jeff Hendrick had given Ireland the lead after three minutes.
The midfielder gave Ireland a one goal advantage after his drive from the edge of the box deflected off Branislav Ivanovic and into the net.
The chance came about after Robbie Brady's testing free kick was parried to John O'Shea, with the centre back's cross diverted by Shane Long into the path of Hendrick.
The home side dominated possession thereafter, with goalkeeper Darren Randolph making a brilliant save from Aleksandar Mitrovic to preserve Ireland's slender lead, although Jon Walters did come close to heading Ireland two in front.
Heavy rain pre-match has made for tough conditions tonight, with both sides struggling to keep the ball at times.
Ireland's ability to keep the ball deteriorated even further in the second half, as Martin O'Neill's men invited the Serbians onto them.
Kostic struck from close range to tie the game before the referee ruled that Jon Walters brought him down in the box moments later.
Replays showed that it was a blatant dive but the penalty was given and Dusan Tadic converted clinically.
Ireland then exploded into life and had a number of promising attacks before Murphy's late header rescued Ireland a crucial point.
There were some nervy moments in the dying minutes, with Randolph further justifying his Man of the Match award with a brilliant save to deny Ivanovic from five yards out.