The Republic of Ireland has started their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with two successive wins under returning manager Mick McCarthy.
Ireland beat Gibraltar 1-0 in their opening game in Group D last week and much to the delight of the home crowd in the Aviva, they sealed their second win against Georgia last night.
This signals a change in momentum for the Irish squad that was largely absent in the last couple of years of ex-gaffer Martin O’Neill tenure. Although a positive start for the campaign, Mick McCarthy’s squad wasn’t without fault, he admitted that starting Coleman and Doherty on the right didn’t work particularly well in the Gibraltar game but instead of preserving he rightly benched Premier League in form Doherty. His gamble paid off as Coleman linked up impressively with the recalled Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick down the Republic’s right flank early on.
Ireland were composed and organized from the outset, Robbie Brady had an opportunity seven minutes into the game but scuffed the shot. Cork man Hourihane burst through to force Giorgi Loria to make a good save. Then a McGoldrick volley just went wide and soon afterward he flicked a header from a McClean cross which failed to hit the mark also. Ireland finally broke the deadlock nine minutes from half time when Conor Hourihane struck a beautiful free kick to settle the nerves at the Aviva.
However just before the break, Gvilia could have equalized for the visitors after a well placed knock down from Kiteishvili but Darren Randolph was able to stop it and McClean and Stevens prevented Kvilitaia from getting the rebound.
Hendrick has a goal disallowed for the hosts after it being ruled marginally offside twelve minutes into the second half. Although unfortunate for Ireland that Mick McCarthy’s side is capable of amazing passages of play.
Georgia were tenacious during the game and there were moments when they looked like they could upset the apple cart for the this new and improved Irish squad, in particular with just five minutes to go Georgia’s captain Kankaca struck a powerful shot on the outside of Randolph’s post. Ultimately, Hourihane’s only goal was enough to secure the win last night.
Ireland now top Group D and their next qualifying group match is in Denmark on the 7th of June and then they host Gibraltar at home on the 10th of June.