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11.02.2009 at 19:45 Croke Park Attendance: 65000
Republic of Ireland 2 - 1 Georgia
Referee: Jouni HYYTIA World Cup Qualifier / Prog-match

Robbie Keane (pen.) (73)
Robbie Keane (78)
Alexander IASHVILI 1 min;
Opening squads
Shay Given
John O'Shea
Stephen Kelly
Richard Dunne
Glen Whelan
Kevin Kilbane
Keith Andrews
Aidan Mc Geady
Damien Duff
Kevin Doyle
Robbie Keane
Kakha Kaladze
Zurab Khizanishvili
Ucha Lobjanidze
Levan Kobiashvili
Luka Razamadze
Alexander Iashvili
Beka Gotsiridze
Zurab Menteshashvili
Giorgi Lomaia
David Kvirkvelia
David Siradze
Dean Kiely
Kevin Foley
Damien Delaney
Steve Hunt
Darron Gibson
Noel Hunt
Andrew Keogh
Roin Kvaskhvadze;
Giorge Merebashvilli ;
Alexandre Kvakhadze;
Rati Aleksidze;
David Odikadze;
Otar Martsvaladze;
Levan Khmaladze
Steve Hunt -> Damien Duff (80)
Giorgi MEREBASHVILI for Gotsiridze 68 mins;
Levan KHMALADZE for Zurab 70 mins;
Rati ALEKSIDZE for Siradze 77 mins
Yellow cards
Keith Andrews (58)
Ucha LOBJANIDZE 35 mins;
Dato KVIRKVELIA 53 mins;
Levan KOBIASHVILI 66 mins;
Zurab KHIZANISHVILI 73 mins;
Red cards
None. None
Other statistics
11 Shots 4
7 Shots on goal 3
2 Offsides 2
10 Corner kicks 3
23 Free kicks 15
0 Penalties 0
Match report | Preview

Photo courtesy our good friend SOCCERC
Pictures from the match
Ireland's 443 International

Republic of Ireland 2 Georgia 1

Statto: Trapattoni's 8th International in charge.
Robbie Keane's two goals brings his tally to 37 goals in 86 internationals.

Robbie Keane Captain

Match Report

Robbie Keane's second-half brace got Republic of Ireland out of jail as they came from behind to beat Georgia 2-1 to go joint top of Group Eight.

The away side took a shock early lead as Stephen Kelly hesitated to clear, allowing Alexander Iashvili to poke home from two yards inside the first minute.

Keith Andrews then had a goal harshly ruled out as the referee judged Kevin Doyle to have deflected the ball home from an offside position. Replays show the ball actually came off a Georgian foot.

Aiden McGeady was instrumental in the comeback and it began on 73 minutes when Keane sent Giorgi Lomaia the wrong way from the spot after a dubious penalty decision.

Ireland took the lead just 5 minutes later when Keane met McGeady's corner with a diving header which bobbled over the line completing the turnaround.

Keane had voiced the opinion that the Republic had never in his time on the senior international stage had a better chance of achieving automatic qualification, although he was to experience once again football's uncanny ability to keep feet firmly on the ground.

The contest was around 46 seconds old when Iashvili struck and reminded Giovanni Trapattoni's men that every single point will have to be fought for.

Striker David Siradze rose well to flick on Lobjanidze's long ball and when Stephen Kelly, deputising for the injured Paul McShane, failed to react decisively, the tricky midfielder ghosted in to stab the ball past the helpless Shay Given.

Kelly's evening did not improve quickly and Given rescued him three minutes later with a smart save after Iashvili had made the most of the full-back's miscued header.

Ireland's efforts to get themselves back into the game were laboured with widemen McGeady and Damien Duff seeing plenty of the ball, but doing little of note with it to leave their supporters increasingly frustrated.

The disappointment from the stands turned to anger with 25 minutes gone when salavation was snatched from the Republic's grasp.

Duff's enterprising run in-field from the right saw him pick out Andrews, making his first senior international start, and his side-footed shot found the back of the net with the help of a deflection off Kakha Kaladze.

But as Croke Park rose in celebration, Finnish referee Jouni Hyytia spotted a raised flag and disallowed the strike for offside against Kevin Doyle, despite television replays showing it was the defender and not he who had got the decisive touch.

McGeady forced a fine save from keeper Giorgi Lomaia with four minutes of the half remaining after the Celtic winger had run from his own half to the edge of the box, but it ended with Georgia still ahead and refusing to stick to the script.

The visitors had demonstrated impressive technique during the opening 45 minutes with Iashvili and Levan Kobiashvili influential in possession, and they returned knowing the numbers Ireland would have to commit to the search for an equaliser would leave space for them at the other end.

They thought they had extended their lead with 59 minutes gone when Kobishvili's shot was deflected beyond a completely wrong-footed Given, who could only look on as the ball came back off the post and was slammed home by Iashvili.

But once again, an offside flag halted the celebrations, this time much to the relief of the home side.

McGeady had the crowd on their feet with 64 minutes gone when he latched on to a loose ball 20 yards out and blasted a shot towards goal, but with Lomaia beaten, his effort ripped into the side-netting.

The equaliser finally arrived with 17 minutes remaining, although fortune favoured Ireland when Lobjanidze was adjudged to have handled inside the area - the ball appeared to hit his shoulder - with the flag once again up for offside.

Keane's finish from the spot was assured as Lomaia went the wrong way, and the keeper's despair was to grow.

He did well to keep out Doyle's 78th-minute effort, but Keane met the resulting corner with a fine header to give Ireland the lead for the first time in the game.

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