Thanks all for your company - ta-ra.
- 2nd Half
- 1st Half
Republic of Ireland - Georgia
Euro Qualifying - 26 March 2019
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That's a belter of a result for Ireland, who played really quite well. They might have won by more, but might also have drawn, and either way, for the first time in quite some time, they look like a team.
Full-time: Ireland 1-0 Georgia
Ireland have got rid of these last minutes very well indeed. Georgia haven't got near Randolph.
Oh wow! Denmark have equalised! That's three goals in the last six minutes, though I can't decide if that's good for Ireland. On the one hand they might want one of those teams to run away with it, on the other they're going top of the group!
The official man of the match is McGoldrick, and that's a fair enough call.
Gosh, Denmark have pulled two back in Basel, and there's still a minute to go.
There'll be four added minutes.
Gvilia crosses from the right and Duffy's clearing header isn't too clever, but Kanakva, again collecting outside the box, can only lash somewhere towards alpha centurii.
Good from Ireland, Hourihane and McClean combining to set Stevens away down the left. He crosses low, but can't pick out a man and Georgia clear.
Final shy for Georgia: Okriashvili replaces Kakabadze, and they go to 3-5-2.
AND LOOK AT THAT! Kankava, in space outside the box, absolutely massacres a curler that batters the face of the post, two-thirds of the way up! What an effort! Randolph was nowhere near that (though of course O'Shea thought "Darren" had it covered.
Ireland disappear a couple more minutes. Georgia have offered very little, but they've now got men in the Ireland half and are waiting to bring on another striker.
McGoldrick, who's led the line well, is replaced by Doherty. The crowd recognise his contribution.
McClean swings a cross past the far post as Gabriel Jesus puts Braseew ahead in Prague.
A quiet period, but you can sense the ground getting nervous.
First contribution from O'Brien who goes down the right and crosses low, but just behind McGoldrick and McClean.
Switzerland have sewn it up in Basel - they now lead Denmark 3-0, thanks to Breel Embolo.
And now Ireland make a change, O'Brien replacing Brady.
Another change for Georgia: Qazaishvili replaces Arveladze, who's not had much to go on on his debut.
A long ball from McClean, into the channel for McGoldrick, bounces up and Kverkvelia misses his header! McGoldrick latches onto it, but his touch past the keeper is too strong, so all he can do is slide high from on the goalline when he catches up with it.
On the tennis balls, this is worth looking at.
Stevens throws to McClean, collects the cushioned return and crosses low; two defenders slide at it, presenting the ball back to him, and this is a chance! But arriving on his right foot, he can only drag wide of the near post.
And whaddaya know, Morata has scored a second for Spain in Malta.
Switzerland now lead Denmark 2-0, Granit Xahaka with the goal.
Change for Georgia: Kharabadze replaces Khocholava.
McClean gets his jiggy on and cuts inside past two men, then slips a pass into the box for McGoldrick. He shields with his body, looking to turn onto it, and falls over. No penalty, says the ref, and he's right.
...he curls into the middle, and Loria flpas it clear.
Ireland are coming again, Brady and Coleman combining to win another corner. Hourihane will have it....
Ireland win a corner and go short, Hourihane and McClean getting into a tangle but still managing to give Stevens a crossing opportunity; his effort is headed clear.
I said this was going to be horrible, but I was wrong. This has been a quick and enjoyable game so far, and is showing no signs of deteriorating.
Ireland break quickly, McGoldrick finding Hendrick ... who tries to be dead crafty, waiting for McClean to arrive beside him before slipping a disguised pass into his path. Naturally, he picks out the nearest defender's shins.
Ireland attack well, McGoldrick dropping deep to find Brady on the right of the box. He nips inside and curves a nice pass out to McClean, who crosses for Hendrick ... and he pokes home, but from an offside position. No arguments there, you could see it with the naked eye.
There's a minor kerfuffle after Hourihane and Gvilia jump for a ball and buffet one another. I'm not really sure what irated either of them there, but full marks to both for trying.
McClean back to Stevens, who bends down the line to Hourihane ... but his cross is blocked back into him, or at least the ref thinks it is, signalling for a goalkick. Yerman is not so convinced.
...which he does, and a phalanx of men rise at the near post, before, in the repechage, Brady accidentally catches Kakabadze in the phizog.
McClean, hugging the line, nips inside Kakabadze who kicks him. Chance for Hourihane to put one in the box...
A foul from McClea allows Gvilia to put a ball into the box from just outside .... and he hammers it over the far by-line. Very odd.
Firmino has equalised for Brazil in Prague.
Already, they've got more men high up the pitch, but that'll give Ireland space to break into.
I wonder if Georgia will change their approach this half; I wonder if they're able to.
Off we go again.
Ireland have earned that, playing with aggression and enterprise. Georgia have been largely compliant, but ought to have equalised just a moment ago. The second half should be decent.
Half-time: Ireland 1-0 Georgia
But what's this?! Kankava lifts a ball from centrefield towards the back post, where Arveladze is in behind Coleman! He nods back very well indeed, and Gvilia batters a shot from close range that Randolph ought never to have smelled but which he beats away well, Stevens completing the clearance. That was exceedingly close, and a major warning for Ireland.
Bit of possession from Ireland to eke towards half-time, but then Kvekveskiri gets the ball and lashes miles away from anywhere.
My word, Spain's goal in Malta was scored by Morata. They must be not so good.
Italy lead Lichtenstein 4-0. I think they might win.
There'll be four added minutes.
This is the best I've seen Ireland play for ages. They're moving the ball quickly and winning it back high.
Ireland need to maintain their aggression here. If they sit on what they've got, Georgia might pass their way into an opening, but they don't seem good enough to do anything when put under.
Italy now lead Lichtenstein 3-0, and in Prague, Czech Republic have just scored against Brazil. They've been a right old mess since the World Cup.
Hourihane has played well, too - McCarthy's midfield is working well, Whelan balancing two attack-minded players. And we've also seen how confident Hourihane is at the moment - earlier, he backed himself to score when he might've fed Brady, and just there he elbowed Brady off set-piece duty.
GOAL! Ireland 1-0 Georgia (Hourihane) This is very nicely done! Hourihane curls, left-footed, around the outside of the wall about shoulder-height, and inside the near post! Perhaps the wall could've done more and perhaps the keeper could've moved quicker, but still, a decent strike for your first international goal.
Here come the tennis balls! But there's aren't that many, and we're back with a free-kick to Ireland, 25 or so yards out, left of the D.
Lovely ball from Hendrick, through the middle of the park for McGoldrick, who spins very nicely - and there's space in behind! So Kashia boots him and the ref shows a yellow - that's about right because Kverkvelia was coming to cover and the touch was taking McGoldrick away.
O'Shea says it's good that we've seen no tennis balls, and as a player, I see that. But he also needs to appreciate that for fans, the state of things isn't great and they're entitled to protest should they see fit.
Elsewhere, Italy lead Lichtenstein and Spain lead Malta.
Georgia win a corner down the right and Kiteishvili picks out Kvilitaia. He's got a lot to do to get head and neck behind ball, but he manages it to direct an effort towards the far post; Randolph has it covered, but Stevens, stationed on the line, makes sure and allows it to hit him.
In Basel, Switzerland lead Denmark 1-0, Remo Freuler with the goal.
Khocholova has a hamstring situation, so accepts some treatment. Usually, knack of that ilk means goodnight, but he goes off then comes back on again.
John O'Shea can't help but call every Irish player by their first name - fair enough as he played with them - and he's yet to lapse into nickname.
In the meantime, Whelan sends Coleman down the right, but again he can't pick out a man with his cross.
No sign, as yet, of the tennis-ball protest - Irish fans are unhappy at the financial dealings of their association - but I'll keep you posted.
First bit of possession for Georgia, who won't be upset with where things are. They've only conceded one chance and will feel that they've seen away the worst.
McClean bends in a cross from the left, but it's asking a lot of McGoldrick. He does well just to get his head to it, but can only glance high and wide.
Ireland are passing it nicely, but Georgia are pressing a little more now.
Whelan snaps the free-kick back to Brady, who sweeps a shot over the bar.
Ireland maintain pressure though, and Whelan does well to find McClean, who nips past Kankava ... who scythes him down. Booking.
...but he drives into the wall.
Hourihane takes the ball away from Kverkveskiri, who leaves one on him; free-kick Ireland, 25 yards out, right, of centre - and Brady fancies it...
This has been a good, positive start from Ireland. Georgia have been nowhere near their goal yet.
Ye've gottae score! Hendrick wins the ball in midfield with a crunching tackle on Kankava, and Hourihane bursts onto the loose ball! He arrives inside the box and has Brady to his right - a decent pass and the keeper is out of the equation - but Hourihane takes it on himself, shooting against the Loria who, to give him his due, comes a long way out to narrow the angle.
Nice from Ireland, McGoldrick coming deep to find Hendrick, who slides a ball between centre-back and left-back for Coleman. He tries a cross, but it's a bit high and wafty. Still, that's the best passage of play so far.
McClean scavanges down the left and drills in a low cross, but Kverkvelia is there to hump away.
Hendrick sweeps a first-time pass into the channel for McGoldrick, but Kverkvelia is there to slide in at cost of a corner. Eventually the ball ends up with Brady, outside the box and right-hand side; he moves across it and drives a low shot wide of the near post.
Ireland win a free-kick on the right touchline, midway inside the Georgia half, which Hourihane helpfully floats into Loria's arms.
Georgia are sitting off Ireland until they cross halfway. Kvilitaia presses Keogh and his long ball has too much on it for McGoldrick.
I should note that Giorgi Arveladze, Georgia's left-winger, is indeed the son of Shota.
Away we go!
The anthems are playing.
He's also hoping Ireland's wingers will give them speed on the counter - I guess they will - but I wonder if there's enough technical still in the team to get the ball from one end to the other at pace.
John O'Shea is in co-commentary - he thinks the main thing is for Ireland to win. Great stuff.
The players are in the tunnel ... and here they come!
McCarthy explains that Whelan will sit in with Hourihane and Hendrick allowed to go forward and explains that Doherty and Maguire are out because of the change of shape. I wonder if Doherty might do a better job on the right-wing than Brady, but here we are.
My guess is that Ireland will look to get the ball forward as quickly as possible. More news as I get it.
Jonathan Walters reckons McGoldrick, who starts up front, will lead the press and also be important in holding the ball up. He's having a pretty good season, with 12 goals and three assists from 36 appearances, but at 32 isn't getting better.
McCarthy's squad nowadays is nothing like the one he once had. His first team in his first spell as manager was: Given, Staunton, Kernaghan, McGrath, Phelan; McAteer, Keane, Townsend, Kennedy; Aldridge, Quinn. Not bad.
I must say, I like what Ireland have done appointing Stephen Kenny as their next manager. Succession planning works in pretty much every other field of human endeavour, so why not football? And given Ireland's narrow talent-pool, the best way of improving is with someone who knows the young players and can bring them along - this is more or less exactly what we've seen with England and Gareth Southgate.
Mick McCarthy is nothing if not brutally honest, and he had some words to say about the 1-0 win over Gibraltar:
“I didn’t enjoy a single minute of it until the final whistle. We were playing against a team with nothing to lose and everything to gain. The game was played in a howling gale and the surface didn’t help either but I’m not using any of that as an excuse; we haven’t played terribly well, but I said that we could only create momentum by winning a game and that’s exactly what we have done.”
In different times, this would be a nice group for Ireland. Switzerland and Denmark are better than them, but you'd not be surprised to see either beaten in Dublin. That could still happen now, but it's hard to see Ireland matching the rest of their results. But you never know, and with those two meeting tonight in Basel, a win and Ireland are clear at the top.
Ireland will find Georgia tricky opponents. Partly because Georgia are tricky - it took Switzerland until the 57th minute to take the lead against them the other night, and until the 80th minute to seal it - and partly because, well, Ireland aren't all that good. Tonight will be intense in one way or another, but it won't be pretty.
I'd like to know: why all surnames but one begin with K, and why the one that doesn't doesn't.
Georgia don't appear to have a Twitter version of their XI, so here it is:
Lloria; Kakabasdze, Khocholava, Kverkvelia, Kashia; Kiteishvili, Kvekveskiri, Kankava, Gvilia, Arveladze; Kvilitaia.
I'm surprised that Doherty has been omitted - Brady is a fair alternative, but it's Doherty who'll be a key man in this campaign.
Right then, let's have some teams...
Evening all, and welcome to Ireland v Georgia!