Second half Serbian surge sees Republic of Ireland buckle in Belgrade

Second Half Serbian Surge Sees Republic Of Ireland Buckle In Belgrade Second Half Serbian Surge Sees Republic Of Ireland Buckle In Belgrade
Ireland's Alan Browne with Saša Lukić of Serbia. Credit ©INPHO/Nikola Krstic
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Serbia 3 - 2 Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland's trip to Belgrade ended in defeat with two second half goals from Serbia dampening a strong start by Stephen Kenny's men.

A goal from Preston North End's Alan Browne midway through the first half had Ireland hoping, ending a seven-game wait for a score.

The goal came when Callum Robinson picked up possession on the left edge of the penalty area and made a yard of space for himself before floating a cross to the far post, where Browne rose to plant a firm downward header into the net.

But as the half time whistle neared, Serbia pulled themselves level with a goal from Dušan Vlahović in the 40th minute.

With no ease up before the break, 21-year-old goalkeeper Mark Travers denied the home side a second in the 44th minute, making a vital save on Filip Djuricic.

After the break, central defender Ciaran Clark glanced a 57th-minute header wide from a Browne corner as Ireland enjoyed a greater share of the possession during the early stages.

But Serbia substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic, who had only been on the pitch for five minutes, put the home side ahead for the first time with an audacious chipped effort 22 minutes from full time.

Mitrovic helped himself to a second seven minutes later when he climbed to meet Tadic’s cross and head firmly home to make it 3-1.

With the game seemingly slipping away, substitute James Collins set up a tense conclusion when he latched on to Stefan Mitrovic’s weak header to stab home a second for the Republic with four minutes of ordinary time remaining.

Four minutes of added time was not enough to make up the deficit, with a cross from Robbie Brady in the final minute of play easily dealt with, ending Ireland's hopes of managing a draw.

The game ended 3-2 in Serbia's favour, putting them on level pegging with Portugal following their win over Azerbaijan, while Kenny's quest for his first win as manager continues.

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