Stephen Kenny's side secured a tough away draw against an excellent Ukraine team, however, the Ireland manager was disappointed not to leave Lodz with all three points.

Outplayed for large segments of the game, particularly in the first half, Kenny’s side relied on a rock-solid backline and goalkeeper to keep the scores level throughout a tricky opening 25 minutes.

But then Ireland took the lead as a result of a fine piece of individual play by commanding centre-half Nathan Collins who danced through a line of defenders before sending a sublime finish into the back of the net.

Ireland were perhaps caught a little cold at the start of the second half as Ukraine moved the ball with pace and precision to open the away defence and grab an equaliser.

Ukraine maintained the look of the superior side throughout, however, Ireland matched, if not bettered them in terms of goalscoring opportunities and could even have snatched a late winner as the home side noticeably faded throughout the final ten minutes.

"Ukraine are a quality team, there's no question about that, they've got really exceptional technical footballers," said Kenny, speaking at the post match press conference. "I've enjoyed watching them in preparation for the games.

"But overall, we're leaving the stadium disappointed that we haven't won the game having taken the lead. That was the key thing."

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The manager was full of praise for his side who, once again, put in a demanding physical performance against a quality side, chasing possession against the skilful Ukraine outfit.

And while the manager admitted that there was an element of frustration to give a goal away, especially so soon after the restart, he was not going to point the blame at anyone in particular after such a hardworking display from his side.

The goal came two minutes into the second half as Ukraine played some quick ball up the left before a clever lay-off in midfield really opened up the right side of the pitch, allowing Andriy Yarmolenko run through to set up Artem Dovbyk to score.

"I'd have to see the goal we conceded again, we seemed to be wide open and it looks like a goal that we could have prevented," said Kenny.

"So I'm a little bit frustrated because after that, although Ukraine had some penetration on the left side particularly with Mudryk, who is very quick and under-laps there, they got into those left-wing positions frequently.

"But they'd no clear-cut chances from it. We defended our box quite well and we had opportunities in possession ourselves in the final third and a fair degree of penetration.

"But we just couldn't get the winner that we wanted, that we deserved.

"I can't fault the players, they were really excellent. Their attitude was brilliant, they were tremendous."

The manager was full of admiration for goalscorer Collins who took the bold decision to step into the opposition half, intercept a ball out of defence, before bursting into the box to score the opening goal of the night.

And Kenny feels that the four-game window has really showcased the natural and unquestionable talent of the young defender who has looked completely at home since breaking into the senior side.

"Nathan has established himself, he's caught the imagination," said Kenny. "The four games he's played, he's been really exceptional in all four games.

"His decision-making for one so young is excellent and obviously he's got a lot of very good attributes and you feel that he's improving all the time.

"It was a special goal to score away from home, a very special goal and he deserves huge credit for that."

The game in Lodz brought the quick-fire international window to a close following four games in ten days, and while Kenny still rued the fact that his side have not got a better points tally in the group, he was very happy with the character that his team have shown to bounce back from the opening two defeats.

"I'd have preferred a higher points total," said Kenny. "If we'd have won today...

"But I thought it was very harsh to lose the opening two games, to be honest. To have no points from that was very difficult to take because we hardly conceded a chance in either game.

"But to respond in the manner we did; it was a real kick in the teeth and the players showed great character. To respond in the manner they did and beat Scotland 3-0 in the Aviva Stadium, it was an amazing day, an amazing night.

"Then to lose Seamus Coleman, John Egan, Shane Duffy, etc and Michael [Obafemi], our centre-forward, to lose those experienced players...

"The back three, I felt, tonight were really exceptional, Darragh Lenihan, Dara O'Shea and of course Nathan Collins was really exceptional."

And looking ahead to the September series, where Ireland will finish with games against Armenia and Scotland, the manager expects the team to take the momentum of the last two games and bring it with them into those upcoming fixtures.

"Today was a good platform to go and play and we played well," said Kenny. "But I want us to be even better than that, I want us to improve again.

"I think we're capable of even getting better and the capacity there for improvement is high."

On an emotional night in Lodz, where the Ukraine side had a special moment with their fans at the end of the game, showing solidarity with each other, Kenny paid credit to the team for what they are doing for their country in extremely difficult circumstances.

"Credit to Ukraine, they've been through such a tough time themselves and credit to them as a nation for doing brilliantly," said Kenny.

"They didn't go to the World Cup, but they obviously performed well and lead the group, so credit to the Ukrainian players."