Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Shane Duffy was Ireland's only impressive performer in Georgia draw

Martin O'Neill celebrates following the Republic of Ireland's victory over Germany Martin O’Neill celebrates following the Republic of Ireland’s victory over Germany
Sammy Stanley | 03 September, 2017, 08:03

Meanwhile, Serbia's 3-0 win over Moldova ensured they went two points clear of Ireland ahead of the two sides meeting in Dublin on Tuesday, when Martin O'Neill's men go in search of a victory to revive their hopes of winning the group. "They played excep- tionally well against us previous year and followed that up a couple of days later by doing brilliantly against Wales". "It will have to be a phenomenal effort to beat them on Tuesday night".

McClean knows the importance of getting a better result in that clash, and he made no excuses for Ireland's poor display tonight. For me it's a learning curve and I need to learn as quickly as possible to put things right. "We'll have to be really, really at our best to win the game - but we can do that".

"That's my fourth game [against Georgia] since I've been in charge and the matches have all been very hard, I think they're improving".

"It's disappointing because of the performance but we're still in it", he said.

Shane Duffy scored a fourth-minute header to give Ireland the lead at Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi, but that was as good as it got for the team's travelling supporters, who watched as Georgia were allowed to dominate proceedings.

Why didn't Ireland play ball?

And so it proved with Georgia having 74% of the possession in a game were Ireland often looked laboured, bereft of ideas, and, in truth, lucky to escape Tbilisi with a point thanks to Shane Duffy's goal.

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during his side's clash with Georgia
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill during his side’s clash with Georgia

Brady and McClean also forced solid interventions out of Makaridze, but Ireland were not doing enough in the final third to test a goalkeeper who had showed frailties in the early stages of the contest.

The sense that it would lead to a goal built steadily and, sure enough, the locals pulled level with 11 minutes of the half to play.

"We did not close down strongly and then when we did have it we gave it away too cheaply which is not a great sign".

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.

They might have got one 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, who worked hard but had little service and nearly no chances to score himself, picked out McClean six minutes from time but the winger couldn't quite finish and McGeady then missed a clearcut chance to convert a Duffy knockdown in added time. They're a lot better than what people think when you look at their results through the group.

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