THE Republic of Ireland travelled to Tbilisi to face one of their sternest tests in qualification for Euro 2020. Mick McCarthy’s men went in unbeaten in five games so far in qualification for the tournament with hopes to maintain their unbeaten record. Georgia were hoping to take more points from teams above them in Group D, having already taken two points from Denmark in Tbilisi last month.
The game started well for the hosts as they began the game with pace and confidence. Georgia had a number of early chances that they failed to take advantage of as they breached the Irish backline a number of times in the first half.
Ireland had their own chances early in the first half of the game as John Egan headed against the post from a free-kick, delivered from the left wing by Conor Hourihane.
Georgia maintained good possession in the first half and came close to threatening Ireland’s goal with a sustained period of pressure at the half-hour mark. This lead to a mistake by Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph which was luckily cleared by his defence. The hosts maintained their pressure up until half-time when a wasted corner by Hourihane lead to a breakaway by the Georgians, leading to a shot by Qazaishvili whizzing past the post.
The second half began much brighter for Ireland as a cross was spilled by Georgian goalkeeper Giorgi Loria, with Jeff Hendrick failing to capitalise on the mistake.
Chances for both sides were few and far between in the second half with both defences remaining compact and hard to penetrate. A free-kick by Ananidze outside the Irish penalty area after the hour mark sailing harmlessly over the Irish goal.
Both teams made attacking substitutions towards the end of the game in an attempt to break the deadlock with young Galway man, Aaron Connolly, going close twice in the closing minutes but narrowly missing the target.
Overall, both teams were thwarted by the opposition defence though Georgia showed more promise in the attacking areas of the pitch, while Ireland lacked the creativity and imagination to break down a tough Georgian backline.
The draw leaves the Republic of Ireland top of Group D on twelve points, as they travel to Switzerland on Tuesday hoping for a better performance and to take all three points as their search for Euro 2020 qualification continues.