Stand-in captain Niall Quinn's 87th-minute equaliser against the Euro 96 finalists Croatia in Dub- lin yesterday ended the Republic's five-match losing sequence.
The Irish twice fell behind to goals by Davor Suker and Zvonimir Boban, with Keith O'Neill scoring the first equaliser.
Mick McCarthy, the Republic manager, was delighted with his side. "Croatia are a very good team, with their touch, passing and general mobility," he said. "I would put them on a par with Russia and Portugal."
McCarthy's opposite number, Miroslav Blazevic, was full of praise for Quinn: "He is a world class header of the ball."
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Given (Blackburn); Cunningham (Wimbledon), Daish (Coventry), Breen (Birmingham), Kenna (Blackburn), Phelan (Chelsea), O'Brien (Tranmere), McLoughlin (Portsmouth), Kennedy (Liverpool), Quinn (Manchester City), O'Neill (Norwich). Substitutes: Moore (Middlesbrough) for O'Neill, h-t, Harte (Leeds) for Phelan, h-t, Fleming (Middlesbrough) for Cunningham, 59, Kernaghan (Manchester City) for Kenna, 64, Savage (Millwall) for McLoughlin, 71, Cascarino (Marseille) for Breen, 74.
CROATIA: Mrmic (Varteks Varazdin); Stanic (Club Bruges), Jarni (Real Betis), Stimac (Derby County), Jerkan (Real Oviedo), Bilic (West Ham Utd), Asanovic (Derby County), Vlaovic (Padova), Suker (Real Madrid), Boban (Milan), Boksic (Juventus). Substitutes: Ladic (Croatia Zagreb) for Mrmic, h-t, Jurcevic (Freiburg) for Vlaovic, 71, Soldo (Croatia Zagreb) for Stanic, 78.
Referee: P Leduc (France).Reuse content