Martin O'Neill hailed a "brilliant" Republic of Ireland display after the 2-2 draw in Serbia and said it sets his team up to "drive on".

The visitors enjoyed the perfect start when Jeff Hendrick's volley squirmed in after just two minutes, but Serbia took control thereafter. 

Filip Kostic netted the leveller they deserved on 62 minutes and after he went down under a soft Jon Walters challenge seven minutes later, Dusan Tadic scored from the spot to nudge Serbia ahead.

With an opening defeat looking inevitable, Daryl Murphy headed home from a corner to plunder a point, and leave O'Neill elated.

"You knew that they were going to come into the game in the second half; they did so. But we've roared back after conceding the penalty," he told RTÉ Sport.

"France is gone, that's out of the way. Some of the younger are coming in here, they're very fine players, they're going to improve."

"We'd a goal disallowed, Shane Long had a great chance to equalise and then Murphy comes up with a great great goal. We've deserved the point without question. 

"It's very very difficult. You're playing away from home against Serbia. These boys play in big, big leagues. They gave it away a few times because the conditions didn't help in the game.

"It's a great point, a great point. France is gone, that's out of the way. Some of the younger are coming in here, they're very fine players, they're going to improve."

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Ireland struggled to retain possession - a familiar flaw on the road - and Serbia looked the classier outfit throughout. 

However a bullish O'Neill had nothing but praise for his troops, and is looking to build towards another successful qualification campaign.

"You're not expecting to control a game for 90 minutes in a match away to Serbia - that's lunacy," he added.

"We've fought back magnificently from going a goal behind. The players were brilliant. I'm delighted with them.

"That point there sets us up now for next month. Hopefully we're going to try and drive on. This group will have turns, twists everything that you name.

"This is very, very difficult. I don't think you realise how difficult it is to come away from home, in these sort of conditions, to come away from home and score twice. We've done brilliantly."