'Finishing as strong as we did is pleasing' - John O'Shea rues 'fortunate' Serbian goals
John O'Shea was left with mixed feelings after the Republic of Ireland launched their World Cup qualifying campaign with a battling point.
The 35-year-old played his part in an eventful 2-2 draw in Serbia in which the Republic had to come from behind to ensure they did not leave Belgrade empty-handed.
However, while there was little doubt that the hosts deserved at least a point, the manner in which they ultimately achieved it left a sour taste for O'Shea after he saw Filip Kostic benefit from a fortuitous deflection to level before winning a controversial penalty at the expense of Jonathan Walters.
The Sunderland defender said: "He's clever, he's bought it. He's got on the inside - I just literally saw a replay a second ago - and he's gone down without any contact.
"Look, he's got on the wrong side of Jonny, so he knows the referee too is kind of blinded by his angle. What he sees, it's more than likely you're going to give a penalty for it. Unfortunately if he has a better angle, he's not going to give it.
"They were quite fortunate how they got the equaliser. Myself and Tadic, we didn't know where the ball was and it just bounced off his knee or his heel and fell right to the lad's foot, so they were very fortunate to get back in it in that sense."
That said, O'Shea admitted the Republic had to take the positives from a testing night at the Rajko Mitic Stadium.
They led after just three minutes when Jeff Hendrick got them off to a dream start with his first senior international goal, but they needed Daryl Murphy, winning his 24th cap as a substitute, to finally break his own duck 10 minutes from time to claim a draw.
O'Shea said: "Look, when you do go 2-1 down away from home in a World Cup qualifier and you finish as strongly as we did, that's definitely pleasing, and the other pleasing thing is the impact of the players who came on.
"Stephen Quinn and Daryl Murphy had a big impact. They were vital in there, obviously Murph with the goal, but Quinner was everywhere when he came on.
"He popped up, he was getting on the ball, getting us playing again and that was crucial."
Manager Martin O'Neill took something of a gamble when he named O'Shea, who had not played since August 21 because of a hip problem, and skipper Seamus Coleman, yet to appear for Everton this season after nursing an ankle injury, in his starting line-up.
However, both men got through the full 90 minutes and showed no ill-effects.
O'Shea said: "I was just chatting with Seamus there afterwards. It's amazing, you're worrying if you will get through the 90, but thankfully we did. It was one of those, we are going to benefit from the game massively."