Ireland might have retaken the lead had Long managed to make the most of a rare opportunity when he rose unmarked to get his head to Christie's 69th-minute cross, but could only land his effort on the roof of the net.
Shane Long's snapshot in the 31st minute flew just over the bar, while Duffy directed another header on target in the final moments of the half.
"The second half was improved and we had three good chances to win the game, but unfortunately one just didn't drop in for us".
"We'll have better nights; hopefully one of those will be on Tuesday".
The 27-year-old Bournemouth midfielder won just his sixth senior cap in June's draw with Austria in Dublin two years after making his worldwide debut, with injuries having interrupted his attempts to force his way into Martin O'Neill's plans during the intervening period.
Soon after the restart, Jano Ananidze should have done better when the ball fell invitingly for him on the edge of the penalty area, but his low strike was curled wide of Randolph's post.
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Largely bereft of cohesion or invention for long periods, they sat back after Shane Duffy's early goal - allowing their opponents to rack up a whopping 74% possession.
"For me it's a learning curve and I need to learn as quickly as possible to put things right".
"It's still in our hands - if we win three out of three games now, we'll qualify". "We have to play better, be at our best".
"Saying that I believe we're better, but tonight we didn't show that - all over the pitch they were better, passed the ball better".
He said: "Yes, Serbia won and it will have to be a phenomenal effort to beat them on Tuesday".
Aleksandar Kolarov then made it two for Serbia 10 minutes later, arriving at the back post to slot home, before Aleksandar Mitrovic rounded off the scoring by converting Filip Kostic's delivery nine minutes from the end.
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"Even if we'd won here, they still would have been top of the group with goal difference and it would have been as critical a game if we'd had won here". It was a different story to three years ago, when a late McGeady goal at the same stadium secured three points.
"I am delighted with the goal but everyone would say they would rather get three points for their country".
You ask that to any manager after a poor enough result and worse performance and you're going to get an inevitably cutting reply but O'Neill has dealt with these questions a lot and he's dealt with them from O'Donoghue specifically a lot. But they're a good side.
Why didn't we play ball?
Ireland didn't fare all that much better in the second half, challenging the Georgian keeper on only a handful of occasions. We need to do better because we are up against a talented side in Serbia on Tuesday.
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