Goalscorer Alan Browne believes Ireland can take plenty of encouragement from their performance in defeat to Serbia.

The Preston midfielder scored Ireland's first goal in seven games with a fine first-half header but Serbia hit back through goals from Dusan Vlahovic and a superb second-half double from substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic.

A second Ireland strike from James Collins ultimately proved only a late consolation as Stephen Kenny's men began their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign with a 3-2 defeat.

"I would have preferred a decent result and a bad performance but I think there's definitely more positives than negatives to take from that," the Irish Player of the Match told RTÉ Sport.

"Our previous results and performances haven't really been good enough but we changed our shape today and it suited quite a lot of players. They had the freedom to go and play their own game.

"There are a few positives to take and (scoring) is probably one of them. I like to hit the box. Having played with Callum (Robinson) in the past I knew he could stand it up back stick. I just tried to time it well and fortunately got my goal.

"But I'd give it up for a good result.

"All we needed was another chance to try and nick something but it wasn't to be."

The shape Browne mentioned was a 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation with Enda Stevens and Matt Doherty as wing-backs and Seamus Coleman alongside Ciaran Clark and Dara O'Shea in a central trio.

"Some players only had a day, two max to prepare, it's a quick turnaround and especially with the travel it's a tough one.

"But it suits Enda and Matt Doherty especially and probably suited Seamie as well, gave him a bit more freedom. The rest of us were quite used to our positions.

"It is a formation that can suit the team and we knew we could change shape as well if needed."

Captain Coleman concurred: "You're always disappointed to lose a game, especially when you've gone 1-0 up.

"We had a new system tonight and I thought we did it quite well.

"Obviously if you concede three goals at this level, chances are you'll lose the game. That's massively disappointing but there are a lot of positives.

"We tried to play out from the back and did it well at times, we probably could have been a bit braver as the game went on but we'll learn from that I'm sure."