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Page last updated at 18:04 GMT, Saturday, 6 September 2008 19:04 UK

Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland

Kevin Doyle (left) after his 13th-minute goal
Goalscorer Kevin Doyle (left) is congratulated by Robbie Keane

The Republic of Ireland got their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a good start as they held on to beat Georgia.

Kevin Doyle headed the Republic ahead on 13 minutes in the game played at the neutral venue of Mainz in Germany.

Despite the Republic's dominance, Alexander Iashvili should have headed Georgia level before half-time.

A blunder by keeper Giorgi Loria gifted the second goal to Glenn Whelan on 70 minutes and the Republic claimed the points despite Levan Kenia's late goal.

It wasn't a perfect performance but manager Giovanni Trapattoni will be happy with the result in his first competitive game in charge.

Stephen Hunt was fortunate to escape at least a yellow card early on after a studs-up challenge which caught AC Milan defender Kakha Kaladze flush on the shin.

The Republic had their first half-chance on five minutes after Doyle charged at the Georgian defence but full-back Ucha Lobjanidze got across to cover.

Kenia was the provider for Iashvili with 10 minutes gone when he picked him out on the edge of the area but the striker dragged his left-foot shot across Shay Given's goal.

However, the Republic took the lead three minutes later after a neat move with the impressive Steven Reid and Robbie Keane both involved before McGeady delivered a great cross for Doyle to head home.

It might have been 2-0 within three minutes but goalkeeper Giorgi Loria, who had come from his line to clear Stephen Hunt's free-kick, did well to parry Glenn Whelan's well-struck follow-up.

Kakha Kaladze (left) and Stephen Hunt
Kakha Kaladze is in pain after a Stephen Hunt tackle

The Georgian goalkeeper then did well to block Reid's drilled free-kick as the Republic continued to press.

But after dominating the opening half hour, Giovanni Trapattoni's side started to become slack in the 15 minutes before half-time as the Irish began to give the ball away.

Alexander Iashvili shot well wide from a promising position in the 33rd minute as the Republic started to look vulnerable.

Their lead almost evaporated within seconds when Iashvili was left unmarked to head over from pointblank range after a Kenia corner.

John O'Shea missed a glorious chance to add to the Republic's lead six minutes after the break when he headed McGeady's corner over from pointblank range.

A dreadful backpass by Kaladze then gave Robbie Keane a great opportunity on 56 minutes but the Liverpool striker's shot from a tight angle hit the woodwork, with McGeady wide with the rebound.

The Georgians then had good 10-minute spell and both the heroic Kevin Kilbane, wearing a protective mask to protect his fractured cheekbone, and Richard Dunne were forced to make vital clearances.

But the Republic's nerves were eased when Loria's dreadful blunder allowed Whelan's speculative shot to squirm through his grasp and into the net on 70th minutes.

The Republic had a scare with eight minutes left after a mistake by substitute Paul McShane before Dunne cleared.

Kenia pulled a goal back for Georgia in the second minute of injury time but the Irish held on to claim the three points and leave the squad in good heart for Wednesday's second qualifier in Montenegro.


Georgia: Loria, Lobjanidze, Kaladze, Shashiashvili, Kenia, Aleksidze (Siradze 62), Iashvili (Mchedlidze 77), Kobiashvili, Khizanishvili (Asatiani 83), Odikadze, Menteshashvili. Subs: Makaridze, Salukvadze, Siradze, McHedlidze, Asatiani, Mchedildze.

Republic of Ireland: Given, Finnan (McShane 80), O'Shea, Dunne, Kilbane, McGeady (87), S Reid, Whelan, Hunt, Keane, Doyle (Miller 77). Subs: Kiely, A Reid, Miller, McShane, Delaney, Keogh, Murphy.


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: The Republic of Ireland's Kevin Doyle 8.18.

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.




see also
Trapattoni lauds Republic display
06 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Pick your Rep of Ireland XI
05 Feb 07 |  Internationals


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