The Republic of Ireland 2 Georgia 0
Another Three Points in the Bag.
Goals once again by Doherty and Keane ensured that Ireland got full points from this encounter. Although Ireland dominated the game, Georgia were in reality quite poor and never really looked like causing an upset.
Kerr changed the team of last Saturday bringing in Doherty, Carsley and Healy for Connolly, Kinsella and the injured DuffIreland's This reversion to the more traditional formation resulted in a more coherent Irish performance. Without the mercurial Duff, Keane stepped up to take the responsibility for driving the team. He covered every blade of grass as he continually tackled back to offer cover, passed the ball from midfield and tirelessly went forward in search of goal.
After five minutes he had the ball in the back of the Georgian net but it was disallowed as Doherty had been adjudged to have been off-side. The Irish were rejuvenated and Doherty's bustling upfront created problems for the Georgian defence, Kilbane had a good game on the wing and Carr once created chances down the right. After thirteen minutes a cross from the corner was knocked back across the box by Doherty for O'Shea, unfortunately his effort was just wide. After sixteen minutes Keane once again galloped towards goal before playing the ball wide to Carr who passed the ball for Doherty and he was only denied a goal by a Khizaneishvili tackle. Kilbane a moment later shot over the bar after Doherty had knocked down a Carr cross.
But the visitors came more and more into the game as their midfield began to pressurise the Irish defence. After thirty minutes Arveladze passed to Asatiani in the box however Breen was on hand to make the vital tackle. Rekhviashvili also had a shot but it was high and went over the bar. The Georgians continued to apply pressure with Asatiani also shooting over the bar after thirty-six minutes after Kaladze's run through the Irish midfield.
After this rocky period Ireland came back into the game and started to apply pressure to the opposition goal, despite dominating the midfield the Irish found it difficult to break down the dogged Georgian defence. But after forty four minutes Doherty rose to head into the net from a Kilbane free kick beating the Georgian keeper Lomaia who got a hand to it. Aalthough criticised as playing out of position and not being a striker, Doherty answered the critics by scoring his third goal of this qualification campaign. Georgia almost pulled back a goal just before hald time however Carr was on hand to clear off the line.
The Irish had a good start to the second half and Holland's twenty-five meter shot from Kilbanes long throw. However the Georgians were also intent on starting the second half as they had finished the first. Asatiani had the run of the midfield and twice ran through the Irish midfield with little hinderence. Breen cleared the first ball for a corner though had to deflect the second shot which in any event was adjudged to be offside.
Then after fifty eight minutes Carsely from twebty five meters knocked the ball into the Georgian box for Keane who after a touch hit the ball past Lomaia's outstretched arm into the bottom right hand corner of the net. Two nil and Robbie Keane brought his international tally to sixteen for his countryf. The Georgians did not give up and Given was forced to save from Arveladze and Daraselia.
Ireland continued to harry the Georgian and , Keane hit the crossbar with a left foot volley. In the end Ireland had to be satisfied with a 2:0 victory and the start of the summer holidays
But they couldn't add to the two goals in the closing minutes as every Irish person left the ground delighted with a result to enjoy for the rest of the summer.
At the previous game Fran Rooney and the FAI encouraged the fans to really get behind the teams with the green song sheets to hold aloft and the large Shamrock Rovers Ultras green and white flags. The overall atmosphere for the Georgian game was a throwback to the Charlton era and witnessed the return of the Mexican wave and the olé olé, Let the good times roll.
Republic of Ireland: Given, Carr, Breen, Cunningham, O'Shea, Carsley, Healy (Kinsella 86 minutes), Holland, Kilbane, Doherty (Lee 89 minutes), Keane.
Georgia: Lomaia, Z Khizanishvili, O Khizaneishvili, Kaladze, Burduli, Didava (Aleksidze
78 minutes), Rekhviashvili, Asatiani, Amisulashvili, Demetradze (Dareselia 61 minutes),
What the Papers Had to Say:
Tom Humphries (Irish Times) - "So Ireland marked the end of term with an all-singing, all-dancing production at Lansdowne Road last night. Some goals, some samba and a little sunshine. We forgot our troubles. We beat Georgia. We looked young and dashing and fresh."
"Keano, Keano, Keano! we chanted in appreciation of the Keano nouveau. And indeed it was young Robbie Keane's night. He only scored once in the course of a 2-0 win but he did so much else that it would be no surprise to learn that he had mowed the pitch and ironed the kits beforehand."
Paul Lennon (The Irish Star) - "Ireland's little and large attack climbed new heights at Lansdowne Road to keep alive the nation's dreams of playing at Euro 2004 in Portugal. The most comprehensive performance of Brian Kerr's six match reign ended with a crucial qualifying win - thanks to goals by Gary Doherty and Robbie Keane.."
Bill George (Irish Examiner) - "Ireland were comfortable winners of the Group 10 qualifier that saw them return to their best form with a mature, well-balanced performance that was too powerful for Georgia."
Gerry McDermott (Irish Independent) - "In just 134 days, Kerr, Chris Hughton, Noel O'Reilly and Packie Bonner have turned around the fortunes of the Irish team and the joyous scenes afterwards were in stark contrast to the depressing mood at the end of the Swiss match last October."
Neil O'Riordan (The Irish Sun) - "Guess what? It looks like football fever is going to hit these shores again in 12 months' time because Ireland are on course to book a place at Euro 2004."
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