Friday 15 December 2017

Ireland still on course

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Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

JON Walters scored the golden goal that keeps the Republic's Euro 2016 qualifying hopes alive after a tense encounter with Georgia at the Aviva Stadium.

Walters bundled the ball home from close range following a great run down the left and a cross by Jeff Hendrick in the 69th minute to unlock the opposition.

The huge roar that erupted from the home fans echoed their relief as much as joy at the game's magic moment.

For much of the first half, Georgia were far too comfortable as the Irish probed and passed but failed to seriously challenge Revishvili in the Georgia goal.

All that changed in the second half.

Shane Long replaced captain Robbie Keane at half time, injecting pace and power.

Hendrick and Seamus Coleman attacked down the flanks, and Wes Hoolahan was a constant menace around the Georgian penalty area.

The pressure was relentless and finally the Irish got their reward for persistence with the Walters goal.

James McCarthy was relieved and pleased.

"It's a massive boost for us. The most important thing was getting three points on the board.

"It was difficult. Georgia came and sat in, so it was all about trying to break them down.

"We've always kept fighting and we've a huge month ahead of us against Germany and Poland," he said.

The only negative was bookings for Glenn Whelan and James McClean which keeps them out of the match against Germany on October 8.

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