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Irish drive gains momentum

Published: Wednesday 11 June 2003, 19.49CET
Republic of Ireland 2-0 Georgia Goals in each half from Gary Doherty and Robbie Keane see off Georgia.
Published: Wednesday 11 June 2003, 19.49CET

Irish drive gains momentum

Republic of Ireland 2-0 Georgia Goals in each half from Gary Doherty and Robbie Keane see off Georgia.

Goals in each half from Gary Doherty and Robbie Keane ensured the Republic of Ireland picked up their second UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying win in five days to move into second place in Group 10.

Double punch
In a match Ireland dominated from the start, Doherty headed the home side ahead two minutes before the interval, before Keane killed off Georgia's slim hopes 14 minutes after the restart.

Irish changes
With Damien Duff missing after picking up an injury during Saturday's win over Albania, Brian Kerr brought Colin Healy into midfield along with Lee Carsley who replaced Mark Kinsella. Up front, Doherty, scorer of Ireland's winner against Georgia in March, came in for David Connolly as Kerr looked to increase Ireland's aerial threat, but in the early stages, the home side looked most dangerous with the ball at their feet.

O'Shea close
Kevin Kilbane and Keane, in particular, put Georgia on the back foot from the start with their energetic running down the flanks and it was Keane who created the first chance when he crossed on 12 minutes for John O'Shea whose header flashed just wide.

Under pressure
Georgia could hardly break from their half but despite Ireland's pressure, they were unable to seriously test goalkeeper Georgi Lomaia. Georgia, however, rarely threatened, their best chance falling to Malkhaz Asatiani who shot over after being teed up by Kakha Kaladze.

Doherty strikes
With half-time approaching, however, Ireland finally found a way through. After Keane had been fouled on the right, Kilbane crossed for Doherty to head in. Ireland were deservedly ahead, but almost threw their lead away when, moments later, Stephen Carr cleared off his line from Shota Arveladze after Ireland had failed to clear a corner.

Keane on song
Georgia came more into the match after the break, but just as they appeared to have shifted the momentum in their favour, Keane struck. On 59 minutes the Tottenham Hotspur FC striker collected Carsley's overhead kick on his chest then picked his spot low beyond Lomaia.

Given saves
Georgia hit back, Shota Arveladze testing Shay Given with a strike from distance on 66 minutes, then, five minutes later, Given tipped over from the substitute Vitali Daraselia. But the visiting side were largely restricted to long-range efforts and it was Ireland who came closest to scoring again, Keane smashing a left-foot volley on the turn off the crossbar.

Qualifying boost
The victory took Ireland past Russia into second place on ten points, two behind group leaders Switzerland, who beat Albania 3-2. Qualification now looks a realistic prospect for Kerr's side, but an unlikely dream for Georgia who are stranded at the bottom on four points after five matches.

Last updated: 12/06/03 0.49CET