Luton striker Collins scores first competitive goal for Ireland but Serbia are too strong

Town forward comes off the bench to make it 3-2 in Belgrade

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 11:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 11:10 pm
James Collins takes the congratulations after scoring for Ireland this evening

Luton striker James Collins scored his first competitive goal for the Republic of Ireland this evening, but it proved a consolation as they were beaten 3-2 by Serbia during their opening World Cup 2022 qualifier in Belgrade.

Boss Stephen Kenny named a much-changed team for the clash, with Collins on the bench, as Preston midfielder Alan Browne headed home on 18 minutes to end the Irish's 677-minute goal drought.

However, Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic levelled for the hosts after 40 minutes before Fulham attacker Aleksandar Mitrovic came off the bench just after the hour mark, scoring within five minutes to make it 2-1.

He then added a second, but Collins, on with 11 to go, pounced when Bournemouth striker Shane Long diverted a weak back header into his path, the Hatters' leading marksman making sure by sliding home for a second goal in Irish colours, his first coming in a friendly against Bulgaria.

The result extends Kenny's wait for a first win since taking charge to nine games, although they host Luxembourg in their next qualifier on Saturday.