Behind goals from Richard Keogh, Simon Cox and Robbie Keane—along with a man advantage after Georgian keeper George Loria was sent off in the 20th minute—Ireland cruised to a 4-0 victory against Georgia in an international friendly.
Shane Long had the real golden scoring chance in the game, breaking free from the Georgia defense on a long run and finding himself one-on-one with the keeper in the box. But his wrong-footed chip didn't fool Loria and the keeper made the save.
Loria's day would end in the 20th minute, however, as he was given a red card for taking out Long outside the area. Omar Migineishvili would be brought on and defender Zhano Ananidze was sacrificed. The keeper was instantly tested, as he had to knock clear James McClean's on-target free kick attempt.
A man up, Ireland would score the game's first goal in the 42nd minute. After Long earned a free kick down the right side, McClean swung in a beautiful cross and Keogh lept above the Georgia defense on the back post and headed home the go-ahead score.
Two minutes into the second half, Ireland would double the lead.
McLean was played down the left side on a through ball and his low cross wasn't met by Long but instead found its way to Simon Cox, who had a wide open net to shoot at and didn't disappoint, playing the ball into the net off a Georgia defender.
Long had another breakaway chance in the 58th minute after Keane played him between two defenders with a brilliant through ball. But once again, Long was denied on the break.
Cox nearly doubled his goal tally in the 64th minute after he settled a nice cross in the box from Marc Wilson and had plenty of room in the box to shoot, but his effort skittered across the face of goal and past his Irish teammates, who would have easily tapped the shot home if they were close enough to get a touch.
Not to be outdone, Keane would join the scoring in the 77th minute.
Aiden McGeady harassed a Georgia defender and deflected a clearance attempt back into the box, where it fell to Conor Sammon. The forward unselfishly slid a pass across the six-yard box to Keane, who tapped home Ireland's third goal.
Of course, Keane wasn't done.
Jeff Hendrick battled for the ball in the midfield and won it back before making a sprint toward the box. He played Keane into the clear with a simple pass and the LA Galaxy slammed home his second goal of the game.
It was an emphatic win for Ireland and a nice tune-up for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
James McClean, Ireland: A
Without question, James McClean was the first-half Man of the Match. His two assists into the box were true beauties and he posed a constant threat on the ball down the flank. It was a very, very solid performance.
Robbie Keane, Ireland: A
And here's your second-half Man of the Match. The opportunistic Keane played the role of poacher perfectly in his 45 minutes of play, putting himself in dangerous positions and finishing them to perfection when found by his teammates.
Shane Long, Ireland: B+
The captain was active and intelligent, making incisive runs and finding himself on two different breakaways. Really, the only thing he didn't do in this match was score, a disappointment given his role as a forward. Still, he was more than the Georgia defense could handle and it was a bright performance overall.
I'm not even going to pretend as though this was anything other than a miserable performance by Georgia. I know they were down a man. I know they are a defensive team, which doesn't exactly lend itself to an exciting game to watch. But Georgia rarely threatened and made way too many mistakes in their own half.
The only players who at all looked positive at times were the two goalies, an odd occurrence in a game that saw the opposition score four goals.
|Marc Wilson (off 66') ||D||B|
|Richard Keogh ||D||A|
|Paul McShane ||D||B|
|Damien Delaney ||D||B|
|James McCarthy (off 71') ||M||B+|
|James McClean (off 66')||M||A|
|Wesley Hoolahan (off 75') ||M||B|
|Andrew Keogh (off 46') ||M||B|
|Shane Long (off 71')||F||B+|
|Robbie Keane (on 46')|| |
|Richard Dunne (on 66')|| |
|Aiden McGeady (on 66')|| |
|Conor Sammon (on 71')|| |
|Jeff Hendrick (on 71') || |
|Stephen Quinn (on 75') || |
|George Loria (red 20') ||GK||C|
|Ucha Lobjanidze (off 46') ||D||D|
|Akaki Khubutia ||D||D|
|Guram Kashia ||D||D|
|Dato Kvirkvelia (off 69')||D||D|
|Zurab Khizanishvili ||D||D|
|Jaba Kankava ||M||D|
|Murtaz Daushvili (off 54') ||M||D|
|Zhano Ananidze (off 20') ||M||D|
|Alexander Kobakhidze ||M||D|
|Nikoloz Gelashvili (off 61') ||F||D|
|Omar Migineishvili (on 20') ||GK||C|
|David Targamadze (on 46') ||M||D|
|Irakli Dzaria (on 54') || |
|Irakali Maisuradze (on 61')||M||D|
|George Popkhadze (on 69')||D||D|
Ireland will face the Faroe Islands in a key World Cup qualifier, while Georgia will face Denmark in a friendly before their World Cup qualifiers resume in September.