A sloppy second-half performance saw Ireland started their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 3-2 defeat in Belgrade against Serbia.
Stephen Kenny’s side had taken the lead through Alan Browne but Aleksandar Mitrović’s brace in the second-half was the difference despite a late goal from James Collins.
Ireland did the early pressing in the opening minutes with a series of corners, Ciaran Clark came closest from those opportunities but his effort went wide.
The visitors took the lead in the 18th minute when Enda Stevens made a defence-splitting pass to Callum Robinson whose saw his cross met by Alan Browne at the back post.
Browne rose excellently to head the ball past Dmitrović and put Ireland in front.
While the hosts had much of the ball, the Irish defence held firm in Belgrade and were certainly defying expectations in the opening 35 minutes.
However Serbian persistence paid off as they equalised courtesy of Dušan Vlahović when he was set up by a Tadić flick-on , Vlahovic slipping the ball past Travers five minute before the break.
Ireland started the second-half in earnest fashion with Aaron Connolly going close early on from a Stevens pull-back.
Ireland had shouts for a penalty on 51 minutes when Connolly latched onto a through-ball and appeared to be taken down in the area but the referee didn’t agree. Ireland continued to press and an opportunity came into the path of Callum Robinson from Alan Browne cross but the danger was cleared.
Substitute Aleksandar Mitrović gave the home side the lead when a clever pass from Tadic set up the striker and spotting Travers off his line he chipped it over the keeper to score.
Mitrović added a second in the 75th minute when Tadic’s cross into the area was met by the striker with a powerful header.
Ireland set up a grand stand finish five minutes from the end when James Collins scored his first competitive goal after Shane Long forced an error from Stefan Mitrović and Collins applied the finish despite under pressure.
Stephen Kenny’s men where unable to fashion an equaliser as Serbia gathered an opening round three points.
Serbia: Marko Dmitrović (GK), Strahinja Pavlović, Filip Mladenović (Filip Kostić 46), Nikola Milenković (capt), Dušan Tadić (Nemanja Gudel 76), Stefan Mitrović, Uroš Račić (Nemanja Maksimović 62), Milan Gajić, Saša Lukić, Dušan Vlahović (Luk Jović 81), Filip Djuričić (Aleksandar Mitrović 62).
Subs not used: Predrag Rajković (GK), Đorđe Nikolić (GK), Uroš Spajić , Nemanja Radonjić, Mihailo Ristić, Sergej MilinkovićSavić, Marko Petković
Ireland: Mark Travers (GK), Seamus Coleman (capt), Enda Stevens, Ciaran Clark (Robbie Brady 79), Matt Doherty, Alan Browne (James Collins 79), Aaron Connolly (Shane Long 66), Callum Robinson (James McClean 79), Jayson Molumby (Jeff Hendrick 61), Josh Cullen, Dara O'Shea
Subs not used: Gavin Bazunu (GK), Kieran O'Hara (GK), Shane Duffy, Jason Knight, Daryl Horgan, Darragh Lenihan, Cyrus Christie
Referee: Davide Massa (ITA)