Sport

Georgia vs Republic of Ireland Match updates

Georgia vs Republic of Ireland Match updates

MARTIN O'NEILL WAS adamant that Ireland would find this latest trip to Tbilisi hard work, and it proved to be just that. "When we did get the ball, we gave it away cheaply and certainly the first-half was as poor as we have played this campaign", added O'Neill.

In the last five games, Georgia has won two matches, lost two matches and draw one match.

The two fixtures in which Hoolahan has started - the 1-0 defeat of Austria in Vienna and the 3-1 victory against Moldova in Chișinău - have been arguably Ireland's best two performances in the qualifying campaign. However, Slovakian Ivan Kruzliak opted to do a u-turn just before kick-off after it cooled down considerably. The Aston Villa man was also handed the captain's armband in the absence of Seamus Coleman.

The home side's share of possession was 69 per cent.

Only four minutes had been played when the visitors were off the mark.

And to think, it all started so well, when after a clumsy challenge on Jonathan Walters a complete mistiming from Georgian goalkeeper Giorgi Makaridze - who was shaky throughout the game - saw him miss the ball when coming to claim the lofted free kick and Shane Duffy nodded into the empty net.

Players turned their backs on Darren Randolph in possession and I'm sure there were schoolboy coaches all over Ireland looking at that and scratching their heads.

A rare knockdown from lone striker Shane Long fell at the feet of Walters and his cross was glanced just wide of the post by James McClean.

Sure enough, Georgia drew level on 35 minutes and deservedly so.

However, Georgia got their reward with 11 minutes of the half remaining when Ananidze accepted Valerian Gvilia's pass, shuffled the ball into space and then slid it between Duffy and Christie for Kazaishvili to beat the advancing Randolph. The midfield was disjointed as was the attack.

It was a moment that was richly deserved given how dominant the hosts had become, and fittingly, it was the best player on the pitch who played an integral part in the well-worked equaliser. Ireland, with just a few exceptions, were tiresome at their work bench.

Ireland didn't fare all that much better in the second half, challenging the Georgian keeper on only a handful of occasions.

With the game opening up, O'Neill's men went close twice within seconds when McGeady ended a promising run with an ambitious shot which was blocked at source before Brady tested Makaridze with a rasping effort.

Arter, who was born in England and has a few times found himself at the centre of speculation that he could change allegiance despite declaring for Ireland, has admitted he could understand if an Irish-born player of the same ability resented his presence in the team, but is doing is best to ensure that is not an issue.

Shane Long ran endlessly and not without hints of promise, but long before the end he wore the quizzical expression of someone wondering about the point of life, or certainly the most recent phase of it.


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