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Georgia 0-0 Republic of Ireland: Visitors held to frustrating draw

Georgia 0-0 Republic of Ireland: Visitors held to frustrating draw
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Ireland have now won three and drawn three of their Group D games

Republic of Ireland maintained their unbeaten record in Euro 2020 qualifying as they played out a lacklustre goalless draw in Georgia.

Mick McCarthy’s side struggled to create chances against their stubborn opponents, who dominated possession.

Substitute Aaron Connolly was denied a dream debut when his low shot late on was saved, before Shane Duffy headed straight at the goalkeeper.

The result means Ireland stay top of Group D with 12 points from six games.

Denmark, however, can move above them on goal difference if they beat Switzerland later on Saturday (17:00 BST)

Connolly comes close for shot-shy Ireland

Connolly came on in the 79th minute for his international debut

The one significant moment in an otherwise forgettable encounter was the late introduction of Connolly, the 19-year-old Brighton forward who has been in the headlines in recent weeks for his Premier League exploits.

The teenager has scored two goals in five games for the Seagulls and his introduction certainly provided the energy and creativity that had been absent for the best part of 80 minutes.

After running on to a loose ball to test the Georgia goalkeeper with a low drive shortly after coming on, he had another chance soon after, racing through before putting a shot in the side-netting.

With six goals from six games, Ireland have the worst strike rate out of the top three teams in their group and only once have they managed to score more than one goal in a game. Connolly’s brief appearance at least provided a glimpse of what he could offer a mis-firing forward line.

“I wouldn’t say I was nervous I was excited, it is international debut, the proudest moment you can achieve,” Connolly said after the game.

“I got two chances and probably should have put one of them away. It is a good overall performance and we will take a point.”

Stubborn Georgia frustrate Ireland again

This will have been a case of deja vu for Ireland, who faced Georgia in similar circumstances in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup two years ago.

They were unbeaten and on top of their group but floundered to an unconvincing 1-1 draw before ultimately failing to make the finals of the tournament in Russia.

Once again, Ireland found Georgia tricky opponents to overcome as the hosts dominated for large periods of this game, although never really tested Darron Randolph.

Republic of Ireland have faced Georgia more times without ever losing than they have against any other team (W9 D2 L0).

Georgia have won just one of their last 17 qualifying matches (D7 L9), beating Gibraltar 3-0 in June.

Nine not out for Ireland – the stats

  • Republic of Ireland are unbeaten in their last nine matches in all competitions (W4 D5 L0), their longest such run since June 2012 (15 games).
  • Republic of Ireland have scored just eight goals in their last 13 away matches in all competitions, never netting more than once in a game and failing to score on five occasions.
  • Georgia attempted 14 shots in this game but failed to direct any on target, while Republic of Ireland landed just three shots on target.
  • Georgia have recorded three consecutive clean sheets in home qualifying matches for the first time since March 2011.
  • Aaron Connolly (19y 258d) became the youngest player to make his Republic of Ireland debut since Michael Obafemi (18y & 136d) against Denmark in November 2018.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/49954211

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