Rep of Ireland 1-1 Czech Republic

Simon Cox (right) and Jonathan Walters
Simon Cox (right) celebrates his late equaliser, hotly pursued by team-mate Jonathan Walters

Simon Cox's late equaliser earned the Republic of Ireland a draw against the Czech Republic as James McClean came on for his Irish debut late in the game.

Shane Long and Robbie Keane were denied by Petr Cech early on but the Czechs regrouped to dominate the remainder of the first half at the Aviva Stadium.

Former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker Milan Baros put the Czechs ahead on 50 minutes with a cool finish.

Cox equalised four minutes from time as he slotted through Cech's legs.

Sunderland winger McClean received a rapturous reception after his introduction in the 79th minute which suggested that Republic supporters believe he should be on the plane to the Euro 2012 finals in June.

The Irish could have been ahead inside a minute but Long headed straight at Cech from pointblank range after an Aiden McGeady cross.

The lively start in the fixture between two Euro 2012 finalists continued as Jiri Stajner forced Shay Given to make a fine save after exchanging passes with Baros.

Robbie Keane emphasised his current sharpness on 15 minutes as he brilliantly controlled a long ball from Keith Andrews but Cech blocked the LA Galaxy striker's shot.

John O'Shea went close to the opening goal five minutes later when he met McGeady's inswinging free-kick with a glancing header but saw his effort drift just wide of the post.

However, after the home team's lively start, the visitors controlled the remainder of the first half.

The Czechs were moving the ball comfortably with their three-man midfield prospering, particularly in the absence of Glenn Whelan as he received treatment on the sidelines for a cut to his mouth.

Jaroslav Plasil and Petr Jiracek were increasingly influential as the visitors retained possession with ease.

Whelan returned but Ireland were having to defend deep and in numbers as their opponents pinned them back for long periods - without picking holes in the home defence.

However a minute before half-time, Given had to get down well to palm away Rezek's dipping effort.

The visitors continued to boss the contest after the break and Rezek was centrally involved as the deadlock was broken on 50 minutes.

The Czech forward sucked in three Irish defenders as he picked up the ball just outside the penalty area before slipping a reverse pass to Baros who calmly slotted over Given.

Rezek curled a further effort just wide on 58 minutes as the visitors looked more likely to add to their lead rather than being pegged back.

Giovanni Trapattoni made two double substitutions with Stephen Hunt, Paul Green, Cox and Jonathan Walters all introduced by the 70th minute but it took the arrival of McClean 11 minutes from time to stir the home crowd.

Sub David Lafata missed a chance to put the match out of the home side's reach as he hooked wide on 82 minutes.

But, inevitably, the Irish produced a late rally and it yielded a somewhat unlikely equaliser as Cox beat Cech from a tight angle, through the keeper's legs, at the near post after Andrews had robbed one of the Czech midfielders.

McClean looked set to have sight of goal in injury-time before being closed down as the Republic extended their unbeaten run to 12 games.

Rep of Ireland: Given, O'Shea, O'Dea, St. Ledger, Ward, Duff, Andrews, Whelan, McGeady, Keane, Long. Subs: Forde, Hunt, Foley, Duffy, Walters, Coleman, McCarthy, Cox, Green, McClean, Henderson.

Czech Republic: Cech, Gebre Selassie, Limbersky, Sivok, Kadlec, Petrzela, Rezek, Stajner, Plasil, Baros, Jiracek. Subs: Drobny, Rajnoch, Pekhart, Pudil, Rajtoral, Pilar, Hubschman, Kolar, Lafata.

Referee: Manuel de Sousa (Portugal)