Ireland beat Georgia 1-0 in a dour contest in Dublin last night.
Martin O’Neill’s men were devoid of ideas until the 56th minute, when captain Seamus Coleman scored the solitary goal of the game.
Ireland struggled to create any meaningful chances in a first half which could easily have seen Georgia leading at the break.
The visitors should have taken the lead when Levan Mchedlidze hit the crossbar with a header, only for his teammate Guram Kashia to hit the far post when improvising with the rebound.
Ireland improved after the break, but there was a huge element of luck involved in Coleman’s decisive goal. The Irish right back burst down the wing determinedly, and tried to find Jon Walters with a cut-back. However, the ball took several ricochets, before eventually rebounding back to Coleman, who gladly poked the ball into the empty net.
Ireland could have extended their lead shortly after, but James McClean’s diving header was ruled out for offside, and the West Brom winger later hit the crossbar with another header. Georgia rarely threatened after Coleman’s goal, and the boys in green saw out the game comfortably.
However, the 1-0 win came at a cost.
Jeff Hendrick received a yellow card in the second half for a high challenge near the touchline. It is Hendrick’s second booking of the qualifying campaign, which means he will miss the trip to Moldova through suspension.
Robbie Brady suffered what looked to be a serious head injury after an accidental clash with Solomon Kverkvelia in the Georgian box. Brady was stretchered off the pitch after five minutes of treatment, and is unlikely to recover in time for the Moldova match, leaving Martin O’Neill with a selection headache.
Thankfully, reports surfaced after the game that Brady was conscious in the Ireland dressing room.
Wes Holohan is likely to fill in for Brady, and his creativity and eye for a pass was sorely missing in the ponderous display against Georgia.
It was a poor performance on the night from Ireland, and Martin O’Neill has conceded that the side “must do better” after the uninspiring 1-0 win.