However, on a night which was all about Ireland's new manager it was fitting that a substitution would prove to be a masterstroke as Keogh expertly volleyed a flick-on from a long throw from defender Stephen Kelly to spare his new manager the ignominy of losing his first match in charge.
Trapattoni was enthused after his side's performance will admitting that Serbia were technically superior particularly.
"This was a very important test against a very technically skilled side, and I believe we passed the test," Trapattoni said.
While Serbia’s Miroslav Djukic was satisfied with the performance and admitted that the late goal was not a concern.
"I was happy overall with what I felt was a compact performance in a physical performance," he said.
A big crowd was on hand to welcome Trapattoni and the PA system serenaded the Italian with Dean Martin’s "That's Amore" before kick off as the former Italy manager received a warm ovation.
|Keogh scored three minutes from |
time on Trapattoni's debut [AFP]
Trapattoni was forced to make do without a number of his biggest names, such as Celtic's Aidan McGeady and Newcastle United's Shay Given, however he still managed to name an attacking formation spear headed by captain Robbie Keane.
The first real chance fell to Keane on 21 minutes and he was prevented from opening the scoring only by Serbian defender Slobodan Rajkovic clearance off the line.
Serbia's best chance of the half came eight minutes before the break when Stefan Babovic was put through on goal but with just Kiely to beat he sent his shot wide.
The second half saw both sides afforded more space in midfield but neither could find a cutting edge up front, Trapattoni responding by withdrawing Keane on 69 minutes and replacing him with Sunderland's Daryl Murphy.
However it was one of Serbia's substitutions that then paid dividends as Pantelic scored the second international goal of his career.
The goal brought more urgency to Ireland's attack and Keogh was presented with a good opportunity after 83 minutes in the box only for his touch let him down as he attempted to weave through a maze of Serbian defenders.
Four minutes later though he was again presented with an opportunity and this time there was no mistake to ensure that the Trapattoni honeymoon continued.
Serbia will now concentrate on a trip to Russia as their preparations for Euro 2008 with a match against their fellow finalists on May 28, while Ireland will travel to London to play Colombia the following day.