Watch: Aleksandar Mitrovic nets sublime double as Serbia overturn Alan Browne's early opener to beat Ireland

Wed, Mar 24 2021
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Corkman Browne still had a lot to do but he rose above his man to direct a precise header into the bottom corner of Marko Dmitrovic’s net. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Aleksandar Mitrovic came off the bench to score a sublime brace and become his country's top scorer of all time as Serbia fought back to beat the Republic of Ireland in their opening World Cup qualifier.

Alan Browne had headed Ireland into an early lead but Serbia equalised before half time through a well-taken Dusan Vlahovic strike.

Stephen Kenny veered from his preferred 4-3-3 formation to a back three, with Seamus Coleman stepping back into central defence to accommodate Matt Doherty.

The change of shape yielded dividends in the early stages as Ireland, despite not seeing much of the ball, looked assured with and without possession.

They took the lead midway through the half as Callum Robinson planted a delicate cross onto the head of his former Preston North End teammate Browne.

The Corkman still had a lot to do but he rose above his man to direct a precise header into the bottom corner of Marko Dmitrovic’s net.

It was Ireland's first goal in almost eight games of football, having last netted in injury time of Stephen Kenny's first match in charge, a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria in Sofia.

Ireland were comfortable for the majority of the half but Serbia enjoyed a purple patch towards the end and took the lead with their first real chance.

A ball over the top was flicked on by captain Dusan Tadic and Vlahovic did wonderfully well to steer the ball past Mark Travers from a difficult angle.

Mitrovic was sprung from the bench early in the second half and he gave Serbia a spectacular lead just past the hour mark.

As Mark Travers was caught in a bind of whether to come or stay, the Fulham strike took full advantage to chip the ball magnificently over the keeper's head.

And the substitute was at it again shortly afterwards as he rose above Ciaran Clark to meet Dusan Tadic's cross and power a fine header past the beleaguered Bournemouth keeper.

Ireland pulled one back thanks to a mix-up at the back with Shane Long profiting from some profligate Serb defending to play James Collins in for an easy finish.

 

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