Captain Shane Duffy's injury-time header ensured Stephen Kenny's first match as Republic of Ireland manager did not end in defeat as the visitors' salvaged a 1-1 draw in Bulgaria to start their Nations League campaign.
Kenny's debut looked destined to end in a disappointing defeat until central defender Duffy, who this week sealed a loan move to Celtic from Brighton, headed home his fourth international goal in Sofia.
Former under-21 boss Kenny has promised a revolution in Ireland's style of play and made a number of big calls as 19-year-old Adam Idah was handed a debut in attack, while Seamus Coleman, who had skippered the side under Mick McCarthy, was dropped in favour of Tottenham's new signing Matt Doherty.
Ireland enjoyed the better of the play, but fell behind 11 minutes into the second half when Todor Nedelev was allowed time and space to slide a pass between Duffy and John Egan for Bozhidar Kraev to stab a shot through Darren Randolph's legs.
Duffy made amends in the third minute of stoppage time as he rose highest to bullet home a trademark header from Robbie Brady's corner.