Ireland 1-3 Serbia

The Republic of Ireland’s Under-21s conceded three goals in the final 25 minutes on the way to a 3-1 defeat to Serbia at the RSC in Waterford on Friday night.

Noel King's side took the lead early in the second half through Everton striker Courtney Duffus.

But Serbia - World Under-20 Champions last year - produced a dramatic fight-back to claim the three points in what was the final game of Ireland's qualifying campaign.

Ireland were already well out of the running for European Championship qualification and this marked the sixth defeat of their campaign.

Despite Serbia being the better team in the opening exchanges, the home side had a big chance to break the deadlock after 40 minutes, though Alan Browne’s header lacked the power to really test keeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic.

Uroš Djurdjevic produced a moment of magic just before half-time to flick the ball up over an Irish defender and volley goal-wards but keeper Liam Bossin reacted well to push the ball wide.

Ireland went ahead after 48 minutes minutes when Courtney Duffus broke between the two Serbian centre-backs and produced a neat left footed finish past Milinkovic-Savic for an excellent goal.

After some strong defending, it was disappointing for the Irish to then concede on 63 minutes. Andrija Živkovic produced a clever chip over the home defence and Nemanja Mihajlovic raced through to fire past the advancing keeper.

Goalscorer Courtney Duffus celebrates with Jack Byrne

Three minutes later the visitors showed their class when they took the lead. Bossin made a brilliant stop to keep out a Uroš Djurdjevic header but Mijat Gacinovic reacted first to turn the loose ball home.

Irish substitute Sean Maguire had a half-chance in the 80th minute but pulled his effort across the face of the Serbian goal under pressure from a defender.

Irish efforts to equalise saw them vulnerable on the counter-attack and two minutes from time minute Sasa Lukic finished off a break led by Mihajlovic to kill off the tie.

Republic of Ireland: Liam Bossin, Eoghan O'Connell, Kevin O'Connor, Darragh Lenihan, Thomas Hoban, Alan Browne, Harry Charsley, Josh Cullen, Courtney Duffus  (Seán Maguire 71), Jack Byrne (Jake Mulraney 71), Olamide Shodipo (Sean Kavanagh 79). 

Serbia: Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, Milan Gajic, Darko Lazic, Miloš Veljkovic, Uroš Djurdjevic (Ognjen Ožegovic 78), Mijat Gacinovic, Aleksandar Cavric (Nemanja Mihajlovic 59), Marko Grujic, Andrija Živkovic, Saša Lukic (Vukašin Jovanovic 89), Mihailo Ristic