Match Analysis: Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at the Republic of Ireland's 2-1 win away to Georgia in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier.

The Republic of Ireland got their Euro 2016 qualification campaign underway with a 2-1 win away to Georgia, courtesy of Aiden McGeady's brace.

The Everton man added to his first-half opener in timely fashion, bending a fine effort past Roin Kvaskhvadze in the dying minutes as Ireland began the road to France with a crucial, albeit slightly fortunate win in Tbilisi.

Below, Sports Mole assesses how both teams fared on a dramatic night at the Dinamo Arena.

Georgia's David Kvirkvelia vies with Ireland's Seamus Coleman during their Euro Cup 2016 qualifying football match Georgia vs Ireland in Tbilisi on September 7, 2014© Getty Images

Match statistics

Georgia
Shots: 10
On target: 4
Possession: 40%
Corners: 4
Fouls: 10

Republic of Ireland
Shots: 14
On target: 5
Possession: 60%
Corners:4
Fouls:10

Was the result fair?

In a nutshell, no. Georgia will feel desperately unlucky to come away from this one without so much as a point for their efforts. Tornike Okriashvili cannot even cling to his stunning goal for comfort, which was bettered by McGeady's fine effort in the closing minutes.

Georgia performance

Rated 95th in the world, Temuri Ketsbaia's side played far better than their ranking would suggest and deserved a point at the bare minimum. Their centre-halves, Solomon Kvirkvelia and Akaki Khubutia, produced a spirited performance in the heart of defence to render Robbie Keane, a man with 62 Ireland goals under his belt, a mere spectator. Still, they can draw solace in the knowledge that none of their Group D rivals will be taking them lightly when it is their turn to visit Tbilisi.

Republic of Ireland performance

Did Ireland deserve a win? No. Was it pretty? No - aside from McGeady's late winner there was nothing remotely beautiful about Ireland tonight. Will they care? No. With Georgia being one of the weaker sides in Group D, victory at the Dinamo Arena was imperative for Ireland's qualification hopes. They leave with what they came for - and a good performance would not have ranked higher than three points on Martin O'Neill's pre-match list of priorities.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Aiden McGeady:

The Everton winger opened the scoring midway through the first half before bending a superb last-minute winner past Roin Kvaskhvadze to break Georgian hearts. Far and away Ireland's best player throughout the game, McGeady's brace was just deserts in a performance that O'Neill will want replicated time and time again in this qualifying campaign.

Biggest gaffe

Marc Wilson was left breathing a sigh of relief on 23 minutes, as his error allowed Nikoloz Gelashvili through on goal, but the forward's angled drive whistled wide of David Forde's post. Moments later, McGeady opened the scoring as Georgia were taught a harsh, yet valuable lesson about how clinical they need to be at this level.

Referee performance

Dutch referee Kevin Blom did little wrong throughout the 90 minutes, booking four players in total, none of whom can have much complaint over their yellows.

What next?

Georgia: Ketsbaia's side have over a month in which to recover from tonight's setback as they face a tricky away trip to Scotland in October.

Republic of Ireland: The Irish will expect to make it six points from a possible six when they face off with new boys Gibraltar in Dublin next month.

Georgia's David Kvirkvelia vies with Ireland's Seamus Coleman during their Euro Cup 2016 qualifying football match Georgia vs Ireland in Tbilisi on September 7, 2014
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