AUSTRALIA 21 IRELAND 26
Ireland have set up a Test Series decider against Australia next weekend after they held out to deservedly win a thrilling encounter in Melbourne on Saturday.
The Irish looked to be heading to a comfortable victory, but the Wallabies rallied in the last few minutes after the visitors went down to 14 men.
But the Irish dug in and held their lines to level the series and set up what should be a massive Series decider in Sydney next weekend.
Ireland were left stunned in the first two minutes when the Wallabies took a 7-0 lead, Kurtley Beale with a try converted by Bernard Foley.
The Irish response was prompt and within four minutes Australia's winger Marika Koroibete was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Ireland fullback Rob Kearney.
Andrew Conway then crossed for a try which Sexton converted to level the scores, although the winger was forced off with an injury.
Penalties from Sexton on 12, 16 and 21 minutes extended the Irish lead to 16-7.
But on the 26th minute, Australia got a sniff from a driving maul after a lineout and Cian Healy was deemed to have pulled it down deliberately, he received a yellow card and the hosts a penalty try to bring them back to within two points.
Sexton fluffed a long range penalty kick on 29 minutes leaving his side leading 16-14 at the break.
Ten minutes into the second half Ireland thought they had a score when Jack McGrath stretched out for the line, but that was scratched due to double movement.
The advantage was still with the greens for an earlier penalty infringement by the Aussies, Keith Earls score was harshly not allowed by the TMO.
But there was nothing anyone could do to deny Tadgh Furlong a try on 54 minutes, Sexton converting to give Ireland a nine-point advantage.
Four minutes from the end Irish replacement McGrath was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on and the Wallabies had crossed for a try through Taniela Tupou on 77 minutes. Foley converted and there were five points in the game.
But the Irish dug in and deservedly held on to the win 26-21 - their first win on Aussie soil since June 16, 1977.