02.09.2017 at 20:00 Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi
1 - 1
Republic of Ireland
Referee: Ivan Kruzliak
World Cup Qualifier / PROG-match
Callum O Dowda
Aidan Mc Geady
The Republic of Ireland remain unbeaten in 2018 World Cup qualifying after being held to a draw by a superior Georgia in Tbilisi.
Shane Duffy took advantage of an error by keeper Giorgi Makaridze to head the visitors in front in the fourth minute.
But the Republic sat back and the hosts equalised before the break through a well-worked goal by Valeri Qazaishvili.
Martin O'Neill's side stay second in Group D but are now two points behind leaders Serbia, who beat Moldova 3-0.
James McClean and Aiden McGeady missed chances late on but victory would have flattered a lacklustre Irish side, who face Serbia at home on Tuesday.
Wales closed the gap on the Republic to two points by beating Austria 1-0 later on Saturday.
The first half followed a familiar pattern for the Republic of Ireland - this was the third game of the qualifying campaign in which they have scored inside the opening five minutes, only to sit back and concede before scraping a result.
Daryl Murphy's late goal salvaged a draw against Serbia, McClean's two quick strikes eventually saw off Moldova, and Georgia could not force a winner here - but another lethargic showing will do little to inspire confidence for the three remaining games.
Duffy's opener promised much more. Cyrus Christie clipped a free-kick into the area and the Brighton centre-back rose well to beat Makaridze, who had ill advisedly surged off his line to try to punch clear.
Serbia a must-win game for Republic, says O'Neill
However, having discovered the hosts' frailty, the Republic retreated, sitting so deep they were not even able to win free-kicks high enough up the pitch to test the shaky keeper again.
This was epitomised shortly after Georgia's equaliser when lone striker Shane Long tried to bring a long pass under control, only to lose possession while isolated 50 yards away from his nearest team-mate.
The standard improved in the second half but Long remained a frustrated and largely incidental figure as the Irish failed to beat Georgia for the first time in nine meetings.
Absence of creativity
Prior to the match, O'Neill said Georgia were an "underrated" and "technically very skilful" side. The hosts proved that in places but their creativity was perhaps more apparent because of the Republic's lack of it.
The equaliser seemed inevitable but was superbly taken as Jano Ananidze collected Valerian Gvilia's deft through ball, swerving past Christie to play in Qazaishvili, who clipped over keeper Darren Randolph.
Although the hosts visibly tired in the final stages, Ananidze continued to cause the Irish defence problems as he and Nika Kvekveskiri fired narrowly wide, while Giorgi Kvilitaia headed over from a promising position.
In contrast, the Republic showed an absence of creativity, particularly in central midfield, as they made 214 passes to Georgia's 621 and had just 26% of possession.
Harry Arter was ineffective before he was replaced by McGeady on 61 minutes, while midfield partner Glenn Whelan made only three passes in the game to team-mates playing in more advanced positions, usually resorting to knocking it back to Duffy.
The Republic looked better with wide players McGeady and McClean dropping into central areas later on, while Robbie Brady was a lively presence, playing in McClean on 87 minutes only for his heavy touch to allow Makaridze to save.
It could have been worse but their hopes of automatic qualification now rest heavily on Tuesday's meeting with Serbia, while the Irish will fear having let Wales back into contention.
Georgia: Makaridze, Kashia, Kverkvelia, Kakabadze, Navalovsky, Ananidze, Kazaishvili (Khocholava 90), Kvekveskiri, Gviliia, Jigauri (Chanturia 75), Kvilitaia (Merebashvilli 85).
Un-used Substitutes: Kvaskhvadze, Lobzhanidze, Shergelashvili, Daushvili, Chanturia, Arabidze, Aburjania, Dvalishvili, Sikharulidze.
Republic of Ireland: Randolph, Christie, Clark, Duffy, Ward, Whelan (Murphy 79), Arter (McGeady 62), Brady, McClean, Walters, Long.
Un-used Substitutes: Westwood, Elliot, O'Shea, Keogh, O'Dowda, K. Long, Hoolahan, Hourihane, Meyler, Hayes.
Referee: Ivan Kruzliak.