Winning Start for Trapattoni
GIOVANNI Trapattoni managerial curve started on a good note with a valuable away win to kick-start Ireland's Group Eight World Cup adventure.
Away wins have always been hard work for Irish teams and although this game was switched from Georgia to Germany for security reasons collecting all three points on the road was a creditable opener in the 2010 qualifiers.
Kevin Doyle and Glenn Whelan made the scoresheet, and while Whelan's 35-yard strike would go down as a goalkeeping error Doyle's 13th minute finish was a neat goal of real quality.
Steven Reid, who passed the ball beautifully all night, set Robbie Keane free on the right. Aiden McGeady provided the overlap and his crisp delivery was nodded home by Doyle from five yards.
From there the game continued as it started, the Georgians strangely dispirited for a team that might have drawn motivation from serious problems at home. Instead the game was played before less than 5,000 supporters at a neutral venue in Mainz in a hollow atmosphere that sometimes resembled a practice match.
Ireland bossed midfield, with Reid and Whelan dominating the centre and McGeady threatening to make a long-awaited impact down the flanks.
Doyle was busy as ever, and although Keane and Stephen Hunt were less effective Ireland looked very comfortable.
A second goal might have really turned up the heat. Two minutes after scoring Doyle won a free outside the box. Hunt clipped in a cross that Georgi Loria flapped at. Whelan met the loose ball with a well-struck drive that was parried and Richard Dunne drove the rebound back across a crowded area.
Just before the half-hour Hunt won another free. Reid unleashed a piledriver that Loria did well to stop, and with Doyle threatening to make it two, the ball was literally taken off his head and hacked away to safety.
Georgia had yet to mount a serious attack, yet they should have been level after 35 minutes. They won their first corner. Levan Kenia, a 17-year-old prospect, sent in a fine cross and Iashvili, unmarked on the six-yard box, headed over the bar when cleaner contact would certainly have yielded a goal.
It was a warning that Ireland's slender lead would not be enough over 90 minutes play. They remained in control, but Georgia worked themselves back into it without creating a second scoring chance. Whelan got through a lot of work in the center, and considering he isn't even a starter at club level in Stoke City it was a notable display. Steve Finnan, whose drudgery at Liverpool has finally ended with a transfer to Espanyol, was also sharp at full-back but Ireland were unable to raise their tempo up another gear.
Five minutes after the restart John O'Shea repeated Iashvili's miss when he found himself unmarked from McGeady's corner. It was a dreadful header but it might have been forgotten six minutes later. Georgian captain Kaladze left his 'keeper short with a very casual backpass. Keane raced onto it, carried the ball around Loria but his angled shot came back off the upright. McGeady then drove the loose ball narrowly past the other post.
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