Player Ratings: Ireland toil in rain-soaked Serbia but show guts to take point home

It was far from a vintage performance despite a great start

Daryl Murphy,

Ireland's Daryl Murphy celebrates scoring their second goal of the game ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ireland kicked off their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-2 away result in Serbia.

After a pitch inspection was passed following heavy rain in Belgrade, the Boys in Green took to the field and made a dream start through Jeff Hendrick's third minute goal.

Martin O'Neill's side retreated into their shells from there on in as Serbia dominated the ball and equalised on 62 minutes.

And it went from bad to worse as a contentious penalty put Serbia ahead. However, Daryl Murphy levelled for Ireland with 10 minutes to go to give the Irish team a point that had appeared to be slipping well away.

The pitch did not help when it came to possession - although Serbia seemed to have far less trouble in that regard.

Darren Randolph 6

He had one worrying moment in a first half when he was relatively solid.

He wasn't at fault for the Serbia equaliser but flapped at a low cross that almost resulted in a goal only for Dusan Tadic to fire straight at him when the ball was played back in.

He did make some crucial saves during the game but also had a some jittery moments in an up-and-down performance.

Seamus Coleman 6

The captain intercepted a few dangerous crosses deep to the far post early on. In a tough away fixture, he limited his forays forward. Crucially, he cleared a deflected Branislav Ivanovic shot off the line in the final minutes to keep the scores at 2-2.

John O'Shea 6

A slight injury doubt in the days leading up to the game, he was officially declared fit on Sunday and in the circumstances marshalled the back-four well initially. Also had a hand (or more foot to be more precise) in the opening goal. But Serbia's equaliser came when he failed to deal with Dusan Tadic before the ball squirmed to Kostic, who scored.

Republic of Ireland's James McClean with Antonio Rukavina of Serbia ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Richard Keogh 6

A solid showing from the first choice centre-back in the early stages.

Stephen Ward 6

The left-back was unlucky to be yellow carded on 20 minutes for a strong challenge on the touchline. 

Glenn Whelan 5

Sat in front of the defence as the deepest midfielder and got on with his task with minimum fuss in the first half. But he was part of a midfield that struggled to maintain possession throughout. Booked late on as Ireland tried to protect the 2-2 result.

Jeff Hendrick 5

An instant impact for the newly-signed Burnley midfielder with his snapshot from the edge of the box deflecting in off Branislav Ivanovic. He was booked on 26 minutes after an aerial challenge. Wasn't able to get on the ball as much as he would have liked as Serbia's midfield won that battle. He was replaced by goalscorer Daryl Murphy.

Republic of Ireland's Jeff Hendrick scores a goal ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

James McClean 5

Like his team-mates he worked hard off the ball, although he did not get many opportunities to run at the Serbia right-back and had minimal impact going forward.

Robbie Brady 6

His free-kick indirectly led to Ireland's opening goal and his balls in from out wide were often dangerous. But what was more impressive was how hard he worked off the ball, winning back possession many times, including crucially tracking back when Serbia counter-attacked on 36 minutes. He was booked on 57 minutes for kicking the ball away in frustration. His delivery on 80 minutes led to Daryl Murphy's headed equaliser.

Jon Walters 6

Had a header which forced a save from the Serbian keeper but service up front was limited. Also had another aerial effort ruled out for offside heading into the final quarter.

Shane Long 5

Worked hard as per usual but had few opportunities to threaten the Serbia back line. Did have a chance on 78 minutes but his poked effort forced a save from Serbia's keeper.

Substitutes

Stephen Quinn 6

Was on for the final 20 minutes.

Daryl Murphy 7

Replaced Jeff Hendrick for the final quarter. And he had a night to remember as his 80th minute header - the first goal of his international career - from a corner gave Ireland an equaliser. Did well in the limited time he had on the field.

Ciaran Clark 6

Had little time on the field late on as Ireland tried to protect the lead.