Live Commentary: Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland - as it happened

Live Commentary: Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland - as it happened
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Join Sports Mole for live commentary of the Republic of Ireland's opening Euro 2016 qualifier away to Georgia.

Aiden McGeady scored a last-gasp winner as the Republic of Ireland got their Euro 2016 qualification campaign underway with a 2-1 win away to Georgia in Tbilisi.

McGeady had given Ireland a first-half lead which was later cancelled out by Tornike Okriashvili.

The clash looked to be heading toward a stalemate, but a moment of magic from the Everton winger in the dying minutes helped the Boys in Green to a key win.

Read the action below to see how it all unfolded in Tbilisi this evening.


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4.30pmGood evening ladies and gentlemen and thanks for tuning into Sports Mole as the Republic of Ireland look to kick-start their Euro 2016 qualification campaign with a win away to Georgia in Tbilisi.

4.32pmThe road back to a European Championship starts here for the Irish, who bowed out of Euro 2012 with a fatal dose of reality coursing through them. Under then manager Giovanni Trappatoni, Ireland picked up no points from three games and minus eight in the goal difference column - one scored, NINE conceded - en route to a group-stage exit.

4.33pmSure, six of those nine goals came against eventual finalists Spain and Italy - the other being a 3-1 defeat to Croatia - but, having waited 10 years to qualify for another major competition, there was palpable dissatisfaction over that campaign.

4.35pmYep, it's been a long two years for the Republic of Ireland, but charged with the task of illuminating that footballing landscape is Martin O'Neill, who presides over his first competitive outing since replacing Trappatoni last year. Let's have a look at O'Neill's first proper team sheet then shall we?

4.36pmRepublic of Ireland XI: Forde; Coleman, O'Shea, Wilson, Ward; McCarthy, Whelan, Quinn, McGeady; Walters, Keane

4.37pmGeorgia XI: Loria; Lobjanidze, Kverkvella, Kashia, Khubutia; Kankava, Daushvili, Glashvili, Anaidze; Okriashvili, Kvirkvelia

4.39pmIf Jack Colback is the ginger Andrea Pirlo - according to Roy Hodgson - then Stephen Quinn has to be the ginger Gattuso. The Hull midfielder was excellent against Oman in midweek and has deservedly retained his selection tonight. In fact Quinn is the only survivor as O'Neill makes 10 changes in total.

4.41pmCaptain Robbie Keane returns to spearhead the attack, with Aiden McGeady and Jonathan Walters among those supporting the veteran from the wings. Quinn joins Glenn Whelan and Everton ace James McCarthy in midfield, while there probably won't be a 127th cap tonight for goalkeeper Shay Given, who makes way for David Forde.

4.43pmMeanwhile, Georgia boss Temuri Ketsbaia - you may remember him from such madcap Premier League moments such as violently kicking an Adidas sign after scoring for Newcastle in the 1990s - makes five changes to his team from their 1-0 defeat away to the United Arab Emirates. Genk forward Tornike Okriashvili, who has two goals in 14 international appearances, spearheads his nation's attack tonight. Jaba Kankava, with four goals, is Georgia's most prolific player in the lineup.

4.45pmHaving won their previous five games against Georgia, the omens are good for an Irish win here, my friends. Their last meeting was a 4-0 victory in Dublin last June, with Keane scoring two of those. The former Spurs hitman has a stunning 62 senior international goals under his belt - and it may just take quite a few more if Ireland are to reach France in 2016.

4.48pmHowever, it would be a mistake to classify this as an easy three points for the Irish. France were held to a goalless draw here at the Dinamo Arena in World Cup qualifying last year, while Spain were four minutes away from suffering the same result until Roberto Soldado struck an 86th-minute winner. Make no mistake about it folks, this one could be tricky.

4.50pmRight, we're about 10 minutes away from kickoff here folks, but part of me wants a floodlight malfunction this evening so I can serenade you with this in the interim:


4.55pmPrediction: Okay it's getting serious now ladies and gents, so let's get the predictions underway. Being Irish myself I can't offer an unbias assessment, but who cares. 2-1 Ireland. Keane and McGeady on the scoresheet. Both sets of players are making their way on to the field now and kickoff is approaching. Stay tuned!

4.57pmIt's 1-0 to Ireland in the national anthem stakes, anyway.

0 minAaaaaaaaaaaaand we're off in Tbilisi, my friends. Ireland, playing from left to right at the Dinamo Arena, get us underway.

1 minPromising early start from the Irish as Jonathan Walters' cross is cut out by Kverkelia for a corner....

2 minAiden McGeady's corner is cleared by captain Jaba Kankava as Georgia avert the danger and enjoy their first spells of possession.

3 minOkriashvili flings a hopeful cross into the area as David Forde comfortably takes it to get his first touch of the ball. He'll want to impress tonight, with someone of Shay Given's calibre nipping at his heals.

5 minJohn O'Shea's long ball is cut out by the chest of Kashia, as Georgia look to counter attack but Kashia, with wingers flying either side of him, played it centrally and the attack broke down.

7 minIreland boss the possession stakes now as Seamus Coleman runs at his marker on the right-hand flank for the first time, but his cut-back pass to the unmarked Keane was thwarted by Khubutia. One of the most high-profile names in the Ireland side, Coleman can do damage here.

10 minOkriashvili perhaps a bit guilty of hogging the ball there, with the winger waiting and waiting to deliver a cross before Stephen Ward relieved him of possession. Ireland go down the other end but McGeady is put in his place by a no-nonsense challenge from Lobhandidze.

12 minStephen Quinn feels the wrath of the partisan crowd here as the Hull midfielder is heckled for the amount of time taken to launch a free kick into Georgia's box. It came to nothing, however, as Loria comfortably came to collect.

14 minOh dear, Loria is lucky here. Keane beats the offside trap to chase McGeady's over-the-top pass, but Loria comes to the meet the ball and, instead of clearing it straight away, dithered a little in possession and Keane nearly picked his pocket. The goalkeeper was sent off in Dublin last June so a bit of madness isn't unusual for him!

16 min16 minutes in and neither team have threatened to score a goal as yet. It's all very tactical so far. Georgia have never qualified for a major competition, so defeat to Ireland is not an option for them if they harbour ambitions to quality, nor is it an option for the Irish.

18 minMcGeady dips into his back of tricks on the right flank, beating Daushvili but his cross for Keane was cut out by Kverkelia, who has done well to shackle the Irish skipper thus far.

21 minCHANCE! Georgia could, and really should, be a goal up here folks. Gelashvili beats Marc Wilson to the ball before galloping toward goal from the right wing, but his angled shot fires narrowly wide.

23 minGOAL! Georgia 0-1 Ireland (McGeady)

24 minThese are the fine margins involved in qualifiers, folks. Having narrowly survived a moment ago, Ireland go up the other end and take the lead through McGeady, who cooly slots past Loria after being played through by James McCarthy.

25 minIf Ketsbaia used to kick signs because he was annoyed for starting on the bench, I dare to think what he'll do in the Georgia dressing room at half time. His side should be a goal up, but they're losing.

27 minIreland in full control since the goal but McCarthy perhaps a little fortunate not to have been booked just now, pulling back on Kankava's shirt as the Georgia skipper looks to start an attack.

28 minO'Neill's side look hungry for a second as Coleman's excellent cross is headed out for a corner by Khubutia. McGeady's delivery is cleared to McCarthy as the attack breaks down.

30 minKvirkelia should've done better here. The full back looks to swing in a free kick from a wide area, but it doesn't clear the first man and another opportunity goes begging there.

32 minColeman is making a mug of Kvirkelia. The Everton full-back is far too quick for his marker, comfortably going past him every time but the delivery has been off. It won't be every time, though. Ketsbaia will need to address that at half time.

34 minThe Irish defence smother Kankava before he gets his shot away inside the box. The Georgia skipper looks to have taken a slight knock there as doctors enter the field.

34 minThe Irish defence smother Kankava before he gets his shot away inside the box. The Georgia skipper looks to have taken a slight knock there as doctors enter the field.

37 minBOOKINGS: Walters and Kvirkvelia are booked by the referee. The Stoke man took exception to the latter's challenge on Glen Whelan and had one of those close-range staring matches which, thankfully, did not come to blows.

38 minGOAL! Georgia 1-1 Ireland (Okriashvili)

39 minStunning. Just a stunning finish from Okriashvili, who evades a few half-hearted challenges from O'Shea and Ward before taking aim from outside the box and finding the back of the net. Fantastic goal, but the Irish defence looked a bit suspect. Far too easy for Okriashvili. Goalkeeper David Forde drops to his knees in shock. Me too.

40 minThere's a good chance to build on that lead now as Wilson drags down the goalscorer a few metres from the corner flag...

41 minKhubutia leaps highest to make contact with the free kick, but it's not threatening Ireland's goal and they clear the danger. The Irish go up the other end but another McGeady cross is comfortably cut out.

43 minWe've got half time in about two minutes and Ireland will be the happier of both teams to hear the whistle. Well, they've been hearing whistles all night courtesy of the partisan crowd. It's like a scene from The Grey at times.

45 + 1 minGeorgia keeper Loria is being treated on the field as he beats the onrushing Quinn to a Walters cross and looks to have sustained a hand injury in the process.

5.48pmHalf Time: Georgia 1-1 Republic of Ireland:

5.48pmThat's all she wrote from this half, folks. Ireland pegged back through a fine strike from Tornike Okriashvili after Aiden McGeady fired the visitors ahead in a fairly even first 45 minutes at the Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi.

5.54pmMartin O'Neill has to find a way to get Robbie Keane into the game. Khubutia and Kverkelia have comfortably dealt with the striker, who has posed little threat to Georgia so far. Meanwhile, Temuri Ketsbaia will want to address Seamus Coleman's freedom down that right-hand flank. The Everton full back is comfortably beating his marker Kvirkvelia each and every time.

5.58pmO'Neill will want to win this, but you wonder if, by the 65-minute mark the scores remain the same, he may be tempted to settle. As we discussed before kickoff, Georgia have given France and Spain really tricky games in Tbilisi in recent years so a draw may not represent the end of the world in that context.

45 minAnd we're back underway in Tbilisi, my friends. Georgia kick off and I think we've got a decent second half to come here. Stay tuned.

47 minBOOKING: Khubutia is booked as he goes into a 50-50 challenge with Glenn Whelan and wins the ball. Not sure what the booking is about, but that's the way it is!

49 minKvaskhvadze, who replace Loria at the break, comes to collect Stephen Quinn's curling cross to deny Walters from reaching it. Quinn has been impressive here, the only survivor from the team that started against Oman in midweek.

51 minMarc Wilson had to be alert, thumping out for a corner after Ananidze looked to get in behind him. Kashia takes aim from outside the box following the resulting corner, but it's a weak shot and Wilson again clears the danger.

54 minI said it was only a matter of time Coleman delivered a perfect cross, and we've just had one. The full-back whips in a fine delivery as Walters looked poised to head home, but Kverkelia got the faintest of headers to divert it away from Walters. Great defending.

56 minGood chance for Ireland now as Georgia concede a free kick deep in their own half, with Khubutia climbing all over Walters. No shortage of candidates on hand to take it....

57 minClose! And it's McGeady who steps up and fires a low shot narrowly wide of the post. Kvaskhvadze might have had it covered.

60 minChance! This is a chance for Keane, and for someone with 62 international goals he might've done a bit better. The ball drops to the striker following Walter's lofted cross, but Keane's effort bounces wide after he swung his left foot at it. Might they regret that chance at full time?

62 minSubstitution: One sub to tell you about now as David Targamadze replaces Jano Ananidze. O'Neill just waiting a little longer before making his first change it seems.

63 minSave! McGeady is leading Ireland's charge now and the Everton winger nearly has a second, cutting inside his marker before firing at Loria, but the Georgia stopper just about holds his fierce drive.

66 minShot! Easy save for Forde but just a few signs that Georgia are coming into this one a little more, as substitute Targamadze fires straight at the Irish keeper from outside the box.

69 minThe sting has been taken out of this one in recent minutes, and you wonder if both teams are happy enough with a point at this stage. Stephen Ward is down injured now and the left-back looks in a little discomfort.

73 minMarc Wilson does well to defend a deep free kick from Georgia, heading out for a corner before clearing the danger once again. The Stoke man has done much better in this second half.

75 minShot! McGeady is far and away Ireland's best player this evening and the winger comes close once again, knocking the ball past Fashia on the edge of the area before thrashing left-footed narrowly over the bar.

76 minSubstitution: Couple of Ireland subs to tell you about now as Keane and Quinn make way for Shane Long and Robbie Brady respectively. I thought O'Neill might be a little tempted to stick, but he senses blood here and wants the win. Around 14 minutes of normal time left.

80 minIreland well on top in this half but haven't really threatened a second goal. Keane had a decent chance, while McGeady went close a few times, but by and large there's not much cutting edge in the final third. Perhaps Long will prove more of an outlet than Keane did. 10 minutes remaining.

82 minGeorgia aren't content with a draw either it seems, as Daushvili fires a teasing cross into the box but no Georgia player could get himself on the end of it.

85 minThere's a few tired legs out there now as Whelan plays a pass to Coleman but it goes straight out for a throw in. It's worth noting the sweltering heat in Tbilisi at the moment, with temperatures reaching around 30 degrees. It's starting to show now.

87 minSubstitution: Another throw of the dice from Georgia now as Levan Mcheedlidze replaces Okriashvili, who scored that brilliant equaliser.

90 minGoal!!!!!! Georgia 1-2 Ireland (McGeady)

90 minThis is absolutely brilliant from McGeady, who has surely won this game for Ireland. The Everton ace receives the ball just inside the box, turns and drags the ball away from Kashia before curling left-footed beyond the reach of Kvaskhvadze. Super finish and a super performance from McGeady.

90+2 minWe're into the second minute of an additional three now and the travelling fans break out a rendition of 'Ole ole ole' to celebrate what will surely be a win for their boys.

6.51pmFull Time: Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland

6.52pmThat's it! Ireland get their Euro 2016 qualification underway with a win away to Georgia, courtesy of a moment of sheer magic from McGeady in the dying minutes of the game.

6.54pmWell that's all we've got for you tonight folks. Stay tuned for match ratings and analysis on this one and I'll see you next time. As they say in Irish, go raibh maith agat. See ya folks.

Shay Given of Middlesborough during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leicester City and Middlesbrough at The King Power Stadium on January 25, 2014
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