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Steve Staunton's Republic of Ireland restored some pride as they drew 1-1 with the Czech Republic at Lansdowne Road this evening.

Ireland produced a rousing performance, which should keep manager Staunton in a job.

There had been the suggestion ahead of this Euro 2008 qualifying tie against the Czech Republic that Staunton might quit if his side repeated the performance which saw them humiliated 5-2 on Saturday by Cyprus.

A makeshift Ireland team failed to gain the win their display so richly deserved, with Kevin Kilbane's opening goal cancelled out by Jan Koller.

When Kilbane scored only his sixth goal for his country in 74 appearances just after the hour mark, that should have been the cue for a famous Ireland victory after so much adversity.

But just two minutes later, striker Koller dampened the euphoria when he conjured an equaliser to keep coach Karel Bruckner's team unbeaten after four matches in Group D.

At least for Ireland and Staunton the point will be seen as a start, ending a run of four successive defeats, and perhaps the speculation surrounding the 37-year-old will now ease.

With home and away games to come against San Marino next month and in February, and then a double-header to follow against Wales and Slovakia when Ireland move home to Croke Park, there is scope for hope.

Under pressure ahead of the game, Staunton had conceded he felt cursed, and it was with good reason.

As well as right-hand man Sir Bobby Robson being unwell, he also went into the match without 14 senior players - 13 through injury, and with Richard Dunne serving a one-match ban.

He scraped together a line-up, especially in defence where West Bromwich Albion centre-back Paul McShane was handed his debut.

Such was McShane's magnificent display, he was named man of the match.

Birmingham City full-back Stephen Kelly and Brighton goalkeeper Wayne Henderson also made their first competitive starts.

It was in stark contrast to the back four on duty for the defeat in Cyprus - Steve Finnan, Dunne, Andy O'Brien and John O'Shea boast 130 caps between them.

Lee Carsley, back after two-and-a-half years in self-imposed exile, set the tone with a crisp challenge after two minutes which earned a rebuke from French referee Bertrand Layec.

For the opening 20 minutes Ireland pressed, harried, hustled and fought for every ball.

In the 16th minute came an opportunity from which Ireland should have scored as a throw from Kilbane reached Jonathan Douglas, starting his first game after three previous substitute appearances.

It appeared as if Robbie Keane had been pushed from behind by David Rozehnal, but Layec waved play on, leaving Douglas one-on-one with Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Despite steering a right-footed curled shot towards the bottom right-hand corner from 15 yards, Cech saved with an outstretched foot.

Ireland came closer still in the 18th minute with John O'Shea flicking inches over the crossbar after a free-kick from Andy Reid.

From another penetrating Reid free-kick, Koller was then fortunate to see the ball fall just wide of the right-hand post as he tried to head clear.

The Czechs inevitably came into the game.

Tomas Ujfalusi was a yard wide with a 20-yard effort, and one of several corners from captain Tomas Rosicky was knocked forward by Koller.

From inside the six-yard box Milan Baros appeared poised to break Irish hearts, only for Henderson to save at point-blank range from the Aston Villa striker.

Ireland at least finished the half strongly with Reid forcing a save from Cech, and Duff curling wide after appeals for a penalty had fallen on deaf ears.

Ireland maintained the momentum after the break, with their reward arriving in the 62nd minute with Kilbane driving home a low cross from Duff, playing on the right wing.

But the Czechs struck back immediately, with Koller initially holding off the attentions of McShane before squeezing a 15-yard shot past the despairing dive of Henderson and just inside the right-hand post.

Undaunted, Ireland pressed for a winner, and in the 88th minute it should have arrived as Duff's far-post ball was ideal for Keane.

After scoring late winners in the two previous victories over the Czechs, a hat-trick of sorts was on the cards, only for Keane to miss a simple header.