2018 World Cup qualifiers: Georgia v Ireland

Martin O'Neill's men face a potential banana skin in Tbilisi as the race to Russia hots up

Patrick Madden Sat, Sep 2
LIVE: 2018 World Cup qualifiers: Georgia v Ireland

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  • Good afternoon!

    Welcome to our coverage of Ireland's crunch World Cup qualifier against Georgia.

    Martin O'Neill's men have enjoyed a strong campaign so far, and currently sit in second place in Group D.

    However, their hopes of reaching Russia next summer are likely to hinge on how they fare in this international window - starting with a tricky assignment in a scorching Tbilisi this evening.

    We'll be bringing you all of the action from the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, as the boys in green look to make it nine wins from nine against the Georgians.

    Here's to a good one.

    Come on!!!


    Ireland: Randolph; Christie, Clark, Duffy, Ward; Whelan, Arter, Brady, McClean; Walters, Long

  • Two changes for Ireland from their 1-1 draw with Austria in June - one enforced. Jeff Hendrick is injured and he is replaced by Shane Long, while Kevin Long is replaced by Ciaran Clark.

    Jon Walters is fit to earn his 50th cap - presumably he'll start wide in a front three with Long leading the line and James McClean on the other side.

  • Georgia:  Giorgio Makaridze, Otar Kakabadze, Guram Kashla, Solomon Kverkvelia, Giorgi Navalovski, Valerian Gvilia, Nika Kvekveskiri, Jambul Jigauri, Valeri Kazaishvili, Jano Amanidze, Giorgi Kvilitaia
  • In James McCarthy's absence O'Neill has opted for a midfield triumverate of Glenn Whelan, Robbie Brady and Harry Arter today.

    And Ken Early has suggested the Bournemouth midfielder can become Ireland's linchpin over the next few seasons - while McCarthy's career seems to be slipping by without him fulfilling the potential he once promised. You can read that HERE.

  • You're probably well aware of this by now, but Georgia have historically proved favourable opponents for Ireland, who have won each of the eight encounters between the two nations.

    Vladimír Weiss's side are currently second bottom of Group D with three points from their six fixtures - and were narrowly beaten 1-0 at the Aviva Stadium last October.

    The general consensus is, however, that Georgia's position in the group isn't a true reflection of their performances - and O'Neill has sounded incredibly wary of the prospect of a slip up heading into this evening's game.

    You can read O'Neill's thoughts in Emmet Malone's match preview HERE.

  • Good news - due to the heat in Tbilisi there will be water breaks during the match. Perfect chance to nip to the bar.
  • The latest in Group D. Wales take on Austria tonight - a win for Ireland here and a draw in Cardiff would make for a very good day indeed.
  • The temperature has dropped a bit now and the ref has decided to bin the water breaks.
  • 10 mins to go until kick off.
  • The teams are in the tunnel. Very impressive ground, even if the name doesn't roll off the tongue.  
  • The  Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena is home to Dinamo Tbilisi - European Cup Winners' Cup winners in 1981 after beating Waterford and West Ham en-route to the final. There's one to impress your mates with.
  • Anthems time.
  • Hearty rendition of home anthem Tavisupleba, which wouldn't sound out of place being beamed from the Death Star.
  • Six of the Irish team are on yellow cards - Walters, Brady, Whelan, Duffy, Ward and Christie.

    We're underway!

  • 1 min: Good pressure off the ball from McClean in the opening exchanges. Georgia enjoying early possession, with Ireland happy to sit in the middle. The ball is played long and a ricochet sees it come wide for the home side, with a cross from the left just evading Kvilitaia in the middle.
  • 3 min: Hoof from Randolph and the challenging Walters gets an arm in the back of his head and a free kick for his troubles. Ireland sending the big men forward...
  • What a start. Christie pumps the free kick into the box and Georgian 'keeper Makaridze flies off his line to challenge Clark and gets a fistful of air, with the rising Shane Duffy heading it back across goal AND into the far corner. Not stylish from Ireland, but certainly efficient.


  • 6 min: Georgia look to respond downt the right but Gvilia's ball down the channel is well overcooked and is out for a goal kick.
  • 9 min: Despite that early set-back the hosts are enjoying the lions' share of the possession thus far. A good pass finds Jigauri in space on the right but his cross is chested safely to Randolph by Duffy.
  • 11 min: Ireland sitting off Georgia a bit here, the midfield trio have yet to assert themselves on proceedings. Ball played up to Long and he draws a foul out of Navalovski, clever from the Southampton man.

    Good spot for Brady out on the right, but he gets too much on his in-swinger and it's out for a goal kick.

  • 12 min: Arter easily pick-pocketed in midfield. Long is chasing around on his own up front with Ireland playing five across the middle - still unable to get on the ball but keeping their shape well enough.
  • 14 min: Amanidze cuts onto his right and curls one towards the back post but Ireland deal with it. The visitors are playing a dangerous game letting Georgia onto them like this. Moments later  Kvekveskiri tries one from distance and Duffy does well to turn the low shot behind for a Georgia corner, which is flicked out for a goal kick.
  • 16 min: Very late challenge from Ward on Jiguari as the Georgian turned the ball round the corner. The free kick is switched to Navalovski, whose low cross is turned away by Duffy - he's had an imposing start.

    Ireland try to break but Long is unable to release McClean.

  • 18 min: Walters is in the right back position to flick a long ball out for a throw-in. Ireland are very deep. Up the other end good pressure from McClean forces Makaridze to skew a clearance for an Irish throw. Long throw from Ward but nobody gambles and it bounces through to the Georgia 'keeper.
  • 19 min: Warning for Ireland, dangerous ball whipped across the Irish box and flicked on, but Kvilitaia can't get a toe on it. And then a chance for Ireland! Brilliant cross from Walters from the right but McClean's glancing header bounces a yard wide.
  • 22 min: Another deep free kick for Ireland. This time it's Brady with his left - but a good ball comes to nothing as Duffy is penalised.
  • 24 min: Excellent play from Kakabadze, who skins McClean on the outside with a step over and whips in a dangerous ball, which Randolph does well to fist to safety. Ireland soaking up a lot of pressure now - Duffy with one good header clear before another ball has to be hacked clear by Whelan. Ireland can't retain the ball.
  • 26 min: Long is putting in another good shift but he must find playing for Ireland a thoroughly frustrating experience. He has a thankless task chasing aimless hoofed balls - Ireland haven't seen it at all.
  • 28 min: There's a ricochet in midfield and Brady can break. He finds Long who cuts back and finds McClean on the left - and he proceeds to boot it into row Z from 40 yards out. This is desperate.
  • 31 min: McClean chases one down the inside left channel and hooks it high towards Long on the edge, and his dipping volley is well over.
  • 32 min: Ireland break again and Brady plays McClean down the left, and he gets there ahead of Kverkvelia who brings him down. Brady to take the free kick from the left, but his low ball towards the penalty spot is easily turned away.
  • You can't say they don't deserve it. Georgia's pressure tells, and it's a lovely goal. A neat ball is played into Aminadze on the edge, he jinks inside and slips in Kazaishvili on his left and he finishes calmly under Randolph. Ireland need to wake up, they have been terrible so far.


  • 36 min: Poor challenge from  Kvekveskiri on McClean and he gets the game's first booking. Georgia remain firmly on the front foot and completely dominant in possession. Arter and Whelan have been anonymous.
  • 40 min: Excellent angled ball in behind Walter and Christie and  Navalovski turns it across goal where Duffy clears. Moments later  Kvekveskiri shoots from distance and Randolph has to scramble to smother it after it takes a deflection off Duffy.

    Ireland quickly lose it again and Georgia break, the tracking McClean having to turn it behind for a corner.

  • 42 min: The ball is helped back into the box from the corner and Clark hoofs it clear. Ireland could do with a water break.
  • 44 min: A hoof and some head tennis results in an Ireland corner on the right just before half time. Close! Brady's ball finds Duffy at the back post but his header is clawed away by Makaridze.
  • 45 min: Ireland end the half under the cosh - Jiguari has the ball in the irish box and is surrounded by five green shirts but somehow manages to jink free.  
  • The teams are back out for the second half. Things can only get better for Ireland - performance-wise they can't get much worse.


  • 46 min: Ireland start where they left off with a hopeful ball up twards Walters. Duffy then commits a foul but Georgia opt to get the ball moving rather then get men in the box.
  • 49 min: The game has slipped seamlessly back into a familiar pattern - Georgia dominating the ball and Ireland conceding possession too easily  with some very sloppy and aimless passing. First sight at goal of the half for Georgia, it breaks across the box for the dangerous Amanidze but his side-footed effort is inches wide.
  • 53 min: Another long spell of Georgian possession before the move breaks down. Ireland manage to string three passes together before Ward gives it away. They are yet to string more than three together in the match.
  • 54 min: Kakabadze steals half a yard on Ward and forces a corner. Amanidze has two bites of the cherry crossing form the right but both are poor.  
  • 57 min: Ireland are sitting desperately deep now - all 11 players are back inside the final third as Georgia knock it around on halfway.
  • 58 min: Long holds one up inside the Georgian box and lays it wide to McClean who gets on the outside and forces a corner. Duffy attacks it but Kverkvelia does brilliantly to flick it clear under pressure. Moments later Arter's dipping volley from the edge is straight at the 'keeper.
  • 60 min: Long fouled just inside the Ireland half - and green shirts plod up towards the Georgia box. Aiden McGeady comes on for Arter, who didn't really do much.
  • 63 min: Another Ireland free kick a yard inside the Georgian half and this time Ward pumps it up towards the box. No ideas, no spark.
  • 69 min: Finally, a bit of thrust from Ireland. Christie wins the ball well on the right and drives forward, finding McClean inside and taking it back on the right. He should look to the edge, but instead stands it up towards Long, whose header loops onto the roof of the goal.
  • 70 min: Brady has the chance to release Christie but his pass is easily picked off in midfield. Georgia have a man over on the left but can't make it count.  
  • 72 min: McGeady picks it up deep and surges into the Georgia half. He's isolated and tries his luck from 30 yards and his shot is easily blocked. Moments later Brady stings the gloves of Makaridze. Georgia starting to look a bit leggy.
  • 75 min: Ball clipped into the Ireland box where Kvilitaia gets good power on the header but it's wide. Change for Georgia, Chanturia on for Jigauri. McClean gets a booking for shooting after the whistle.
  • 77 min: New man Chanturia tries to stand up Ward who just about gets a foot in. After a better spell Ireland are under the cosh again.
  • 79 min: McClean has been Ireland's best player and he finds the ball a good position on the right, he takes it on the outside and drills a shot at Makaridze from a narrow angle, earning a corner. The ball is whipped in and Ireland are penalised for fouling the 'keeper. Daryl Murphy on for Glenn Whelan.
  • 81 min: Poor cross from Christie on the right with men in the box and he's fortunate to earn a corner. Much better delivery from Brady but it's well cleared.
  • 84 min: McClean absolutely flies into a challenge in midfield and catches Amanidze in the head - taking some of the ball as well, in his defence. Ireland are running out of time here but are still showing nothing - no impetus, no drive and definitely no cunning.
  • 86 min: And then Ireland nearly nick it! Long makes a good run and picks the ball up on the left. He looks inside and finds the run of McClean, but his first touch is slightly too big and allows Makaridze to smother his shot. It nearly falls for Murphy after Makaridze punches and misses the loose ball - but he recovers.
  • 88 min: Georgia have the ball on the left and Christie gets turned inside out - but the cross is flicked just beyond  Kvilitaia. And Georgia go close again! It breaks for substitute  Merebashvili who cuts inside onto his right and fizzes one just past Randolph's left hand post.
  • 92 min: A shove in the back form Murphy gifts Georgia a free kick inside the Ireland half and they opt to work it wide rather than lump it long - but Ireland deal with the danger.
  • 93 min: That was the chance! A long angled ball towards the back post and Duffy heads it back across goal to McGeady, who takes a touch unmarked and blazes the bouncing ball over. Should have gone first time.
  • 94 min: A strong run from Christie on the right but his final touch lets him down and runs out for a goal kick.
  • Right, thanks for joining today. We'll be back for Serbia on Tuesday, which on today's showing could be a long old night.