A strong performance from the Boys in Green wasn't enough after a series of attacking chances for the away side went begging due to fine display by Vladimir Stojkovic
Ireland endured a lacklustre goalless draw against Serbia on Wednesday night in their last international friendly before their World Cup qualifying campaign begins in September.
A decent first half showing for Giovanni Trapattoni’s side hinted at a positive result against their mid-strength opponents, but after a string of chances from Aiden McGeady and James McClean, the game ended all square.
The Italian named a healthy Ireland side on the night, with a late change seeing Shane Long left out due to a minor leg injury with Simon Cox brought in to start alongside Jon Walters.
The game’s opening chance went in Serbia’s favour, with Lekic trying to swerve a sneaky ball behind the Irish defence for a run on the flank, only for Keiren Westwood to show quick instincts and avert the danger.
After a relatively tame opening period, Ireland almost broke the deadlock when a fine ball forward from the Irish defence found the run of Walters, who looked to have broken clear only for Milan Bisevac to dive in and clear the threat.
Possession stayed in the away side’s favour, and a Glenn Whelan run saw the Stoke City midfielder stutter slightly before firing a speculative strike from near the half-way line that Vladimir Stojkovic saved with ease.
Ireland looked close to hitting the back of the net just moments later when Stojkovic conceded a corner and allowed Walters to attempt a cheeky half-volley from outside the box from the resulting delivery, provoking an impressive save from the Serbia goalkeeper.
And the game failed to increase upon early promise in the second half with Ireland’s first chance after the restart coming when McGeady’s cross from just inside the box saw the ball deflected back out to him 10 minutes after the break, only to see Stojkovic gather easily.
And Serbia’s best chance of the game came after 71 minutes, a Kuzmanović free kick from outside the area saw a curling cross fly directly towards the left corner only to see Westwood produce a spectacular low save to keep the game scoreless.
The home side looked likely to get a goal late on, just seconds after coming on Nemanja Tomic took a confident forward run before trying his luck from the 30 yards, but the resulting strike narrowly skimmed the woodwork.
Unfortunately the game ended on a sour note for the away side when Cox had to be withdrawn through injury to add to Shane Long’s earlier setback.