Ireland 1 Georgia 0
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) March 26, 2019
Ireland sit on top of Group D after 2 wins from 2 games. The Republic followed up the 1-0 in Gibraltar on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Georgia at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday. It was a fantastic free kick from midfielder Conor Hourihane on 36 minutes that proved the all important goal as Mick McCarthy’s charges sit two points ahead of Switzerland after they drew with Denmark on Wednesday 3-3 the Swiss incidentally led the game 3-0 with 10 minutes left.
The game was overshadowed by off field maters regarding the FAI. A crowd of around 40,000 will go away from the Aviva happy enough though in what was a much better performance than that against Gibraltar. Eyebrows were raised for sure when Matt Doherty was left out of the team, McCarthy opted to include an extra midfielder also with Glenn Whelan. There was no place for Sean Maguire as Dave McGoldrick started up in attack.
Jeff Hendrick powered into the game, he made a superb tackle on 11 minutes which showed that Ireland were really up for the game. Brady got on the end of a rebound pass before teeing up for McGoldrick only for his shot to hit the side netting. They were in control of the game to be fair, keeping the ball well and looking for the break. Coleman made runs all night up the channel, while Hourihane was given the freedom to attack or defend as he pleased. Robbie Brady had two free kicks in quick succession, his first was struck into the wall, his second was much better but it went over the bar. Georgia got a chance on 22 minutes. A ball was hit into the box Giorgi Kvilitaia won it but guided the ball on target Glenn Whelan though manager to clear the ball away as he was the man on the post
On 32 minutes Ireland won a free as Hendrick passed off the ball to McGoldrick who was taken down for a free kick. A brief interruption occurred as tennis balls were thrown onto the pitch in protest of the on-goings in the FAI at present . However, it didn’t appear to affect the free kick taker Conor Hourihane. His superb effort from around 25 yards beat Loria at his near post. Georgia had a great opportunity to equalise in additional time. They worked the ball down the wings, before a cross was delivered Otar Kiteishvilli lost his marker Coleman to find Gvilia. However, Gvilia would be denied from close range from Randolph with a superb save.
The second half started rather slow paced with both sides struggling to get back up to the pace of things. However, when things did start to heat up once again the ball was in the Georgia net only for it to ruled out for offside. A move involving McGoldrick, Stevens and Brady. Stevens hit a square ball to Hendrick who side footed home but he was in an offside position and the goal chalked off. Georgia gradually came into the game more. However, Ireland piled on the pressure once more with Stevens going forward to shoot only for his shot on 65 minutes to go wide of the post. McGoldrick had a very good chance on 62 miniutes. He raced clear after a long ball upfield, he beat the defender, but took a heavy tough and hit the ball wide as a result.
Ireland were looking for the killer goal they weren’t sitting back which was great to see. It could have been 2-0, 3-0 on another night. Georgia tried to the bitter end but Ireland held on for a deserving win which puts them top of Group D going into the game in June with Denmark.
Republic of Ireland: Darren Randolph; Seamus Coleman (capt), Shane Duffy, Richard Keogh, Enda Stevens; Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane, Jeff Hendrick; Robbie Brady (Aiden O’Brien 74), James McClean, David McGoldrick (Matt Doherty 82).
Georgia: 1. Giorgi Loria; 2. Otar Kakabadze (Tornike Okriashvili 85), 3. Davit Khocholava (Levan Kharabadze 65), 4. Guram Kashla, 5. Soloman Kverkvelia, 6. Nika Kvekveskiri, 7. Jaba Kankava (capt), 9. Otar Kiteishvili, 21. Valeriane Gvilia, 11. Giorgi Kvilitaia, 14. Vato Arveladze (Valeri Qazaishvili 73).
Referee: Serdar Gozubuyuk (NED).
GROUP D Table
Ireland 6 2 2 0 2 0
Switzerland 4 2 1 1 5 3
Denmark 1 1 0 0 3 3
Gibraltar 0 1 0 1 0 1
Georgia 0 2 0 0 0 3