The substitute struck with three minutes remaining in regulation to spare the blushes of the home side, which was second best throughout a drab contest in Dublin.Republic of Ireland made an inauspicious start to its Euro 2012 preparations, leaving it it late to salvage a 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic at the Aviva Stadium in their international friendly match.
Substitute Simon Cox saved face for the home team, scoring with three minutes to go to cancel out a second half goal by Milan Baros in a match that will not inspire much confidence for the Irish ahead of the summer tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Both sides made a positive start to the match, but it was the Czechs who fired the first warning shot in the opening minutes after Jiri Stajner broke free and forced Shay Given to block low at his near post.
From there on, Ireland threatened with some enterprising play down the flanks, and should have been a goal up after a glorious chance was spurned by Robbie Keane with a quarter of an hour gone.
The Irish skipper did brilliantly to kill a ball from defense with one touch inside the area but his finish was rushed and blocked with relative ease by the legs of the onrushing Petr Cech.
The enthusiasm shown by both sides in the initial exchanges waned shortly after, with the game developing into an organized, if not imaginative contest in midfield.
On the stroke of first half injury time, the visitors fashioned a rare chance with a snap shot by Jan Rezek that nicked off John O’Shea, but Given was able to get down quickly and parry as the match trickled into the break goalless.
However, the stalemate did not last long after the restart, with a tidy finish by Baros opening the scoring in the 50th minute. The former Liverpool man was picked out by Rezek unmarked in the area and put the ball beyond the onrushing Given to send his side into the lead.
Ireland was slow to respond, with the Czech Republic looking the better side as it continued to hold possession and play the match at its own pace as the second half wore on.
The home side looked to be edging towards a demoralizing defeat, but found an equalizer out of nowhere with three minutes to go. Keith Andrews showed great determination to win possession deep in the Czech half, and slipped in Cox, who finished from an acute angle to send the home fans into raptures.
Ireland finished the stronger, but did not find anything in the little time that remained, leaving Giovanni Trapattoni with plenty to think about ahead of the team's next friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Dublin on May 26.
Michal Bilak meanwhile will look to build on a positive performance when it continues its Euro 2012 preparations with a visit from Hungary on June 1.