Dublin (AFP) - Mick McCarthy has his sights set on Euro 2020 after David McGoldrick rescued the Republic of Ireland's unbeaten qualifying record with a late equaliser in Thursday's 1-1 draw against Switzerland.
McCarthy's side were five minutes away from their first defeat of the campaign after Fabian Schar put the Swiss ahead at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
But McGoldrick ensured Ireland made it five games unbeaten when he headed in the late equaliser that kept his team on top of Group D.
"I am delighted. Switzerland are a very good side. They showed that at times. They kept us penned in. I'm happy we kept going," McCarthy said.
"We showed durability and the stoic nature Irish teams have shown during my time as a player and manager. We deserved it in the end."
Ireland are three points in front of second-placed Denmark and six ahead of third placed Switzerland, who however have two games in hand.
"I'm thrilled for David McGoldrick. The way we can eke out a result when it looks like it's gone is impressive.
"The noise when the goal went in pleased me more than anything. It was brilliant.
"We are better off now. It's another game down and we've taken points off the best two teams in this group. We've remained unbeaten."
It was Ireland who created the first real opening when Callum Robinson flicked the ball into the path of Jeff Hendrick and he fed James McClean, whose shot was blocked by Kevin Mbabu.
Shane Duffy had to be alert to repel Haris Seferovic's well-struck drive before Enda Stevens earned a booking that rules the defender out of the next qualifier against Georgia.
Switzerland's Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka fired a long-range free-kick that deflected narrowly over.
McCarthy's men were living dangerously as half-time approached, having to rely on full-stretch interceptions on more than one occasion.
Switzerland, who were without playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri, were on the attack early in the second half when Schar advanced unchecked and lashed a rising drive over the bar.
Breel Embolo had a clear sight of goal inside the six-yard box from Remo Freuler's pass, but he lost his footing just as he was preparing to shoot.
However Switzerland's pressure was finally rewarded in the 74th minute.
Schar advanced from the back and played an incisive one-two with Embolo before sliding a cool finish past Darren Randolph into the bottom corner.
Ireland responded impressively, with Whelan smashing a long-range drive against the bar, before they drew level when McGoldrick rose highest to head in McClean's deflected cross from close-range.