07.09.2014 at 19:45 Tblisi
1 - 2
Republic of Ireland
Referee: Kevin Blom (NED)
European Cup Qualifier / Prog-match
Kvirkvelia 36 mins,
Khubutia 48 mins,
Daushvili 83 mins,
Jon Walters (36)
McGeady magic delivers win in Georgia
GEORGIA 1 REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 2
Aidan McGeady scored twice to deliver Ireland the perfect start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign as they beat Georgia in Tblisi.
McGeady produced a moment of magic in the 90th minute to score a sublime winner after his opening effort in the 24th minute had been cancelled out by an equally spectacular goal from Georgian midfielder Tornike Okriashvili .
“A stroke of genius,” said a delighted Ireland manager Martin O’Neill at the final whistle as he celebrated a win in his first competitive match since taking over as manager at the end of last year.
O’Neill went with 4-5-1 formation from the start with Stephen Quinn joining Glenn Whelan and James McCarthy in the centre of midfield, Jonathon Walters and McGeady on the flanks and skipper Robbie Keane playing as the lone striker.
Ireland started well and looked very comfortable in the opening 20 minutes but were given a fright on 23 minutes when Gelashvili shot across the face of goal and then Lobzhanidze just failed to connect with a flick from Khubutia at the back post from the resultant corner.
That chance had a positive effect on Ireland because they immediately swept down the field from the goal-kick and opened the scoring when Walters won the ball, Keane dummied and McCarthy teed up the supporting McGeady to slot the ball home from 10 metres.
Although Ireland were firmly in the driving seat at this stage the Georgians still looked dangerous on the break and their captain Kankava saw his shot deflected off O’Shea for corner before they equalised in the 38th minute.
There looked be little danger as Gelashvili laid the ball off to Okriashvili some 20 metres from goal but, even though O’Shea and Wad were in close attendance, Okriashvili let fly from distance and sent the ball screaming into the roof of the net past a bemused Dabid Forde.
Georgia lost their goalkeeper Loria to an injury sustained just before the half-time break and he was replaced by Kvaskhvadze who was winning just his second cap.
McGeady’s free kick curled around the wall, and just past the keeper’s left hand post, after 57 minutes while Keane failed to connect properly with a Walters cross and McGeady’s shot was easily gathered by Kvaskhvadze.
At the other end Forde got down well to save from Georgia substitute David Targamadze and then Whelan found McGeady on the edge of the box slipped a couple of tackles and cracked a shot just over.
Martin O’Neill made a double substitution with 15 minutes to go as Shane Long and Robbie Brady came on for Robbie Keane and Stephen Quinn respectively but it looked as though the game was heading for a draw when McGeady produced his moment of magic at the end of normal time.
Seamus Coleman’s cross from the right found his Everton team-mate on the edge of his back. A double draw-back created allowed McGeady to turn and create space simultaneously and he cracked a left-footed shot into the corner past the out-stretch hand of Kvaskhvadze for a sublime winner.
Georgia: Loria (GK) (Kvaskhvadze (GK) 46): Lobzhanidze, Kverkvelia, Khubutia, Kvirkvelia; Kashia; Daushvili, Okriashvili (Mchedlidze), Ananidze (Targamadze (63), Kankava (C); Gelashvili.
Republic of Ireland: Forde (GK); Coleman, O'Shea, Wilson, Ward; Walters, Whelan, McCarthy (Meyler 90), Quinn (Brady 76), McGeady; Keane (C) (Long 76)
Referee: Kevin Blom (NED)