Martin O'Neill disappointed with Republic of Ireland performance

Shane Duffy in action against Guram Kashia of Georgia at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena

Shane Duffy in action against Guram Kashia of Georgia at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena

Martin O'Neill's promised in the lead up to Saturday's crucial World Cup Qualifying fixture against Georgia that the key to victory lay in the Republic of Ireland keeping hold of ball against the side from the Caucasus region.

However, not only did they not build upon it, but turned in so abject a first-half display that Valeri Kazaishvili's 34th-minute equaliser was the least the Georgians deserved on a night when they played by far the better technical football. This two teams had met totally eight times and Republic of Ireland won all the matches and Georgia didn't even win a single match against Ireland.

Shane Duffy's first senior worldwide goal was enough only to claim a point as the Republic of Ireland rode their luck in Georgia.

"And he relished it, he scored a fantastic late goal to win the game for us".

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Leaders Serbia are now two clear at the summit after their 3-0 home victory over Moldova.

And so it proved with Georgia having 74% of the possession in a game were Ireland often looked laboured, bereft of ideas, and, in truth, lucky to escape Tbilisi with a point thanks to Shane Duffy's goal.

Shane Long's snapshot in the 31st minute flew just over the bar, while Duffy directed another header on target in the final moments of the half.

"We want to have the ball and that's how we're going to win games, ultimately. That's what we have to do", said O'Neill. "We wanted to hold onto the lead but you can't hold on against technically good players. We have been in situations before where we have had to bounce back, so hopefully we can all recover quickly, get the bodies right and put in a much better performance on Tuesday".

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The pattern of the first half was largely repeated after the break as the home side moved the ball at will, Ananidze side-footing a 49th-minute effort just wide.

Ananidze drilled a low, right-footed shot just wide of Randolph's net four minutes after the re-start, while Harry Arter's lobbed attempt after an hour was all Ireland mustered in a subdued opening to the second half.

They might have got one had Long managed to make the most of a rare opportunity when he rose unmarked to get his head to Christie's 69th-minute cross, but could only land his effort on the roof of the net.

A free-kick ended up with Aiden McGeady ten yards out, but the Sunderland winger got his feet under the ball and blazed it over in the third minute of injury time. We came here for three points and got only one. We definitely know it could have been a lot better but we had to grind it out and defend and a point away from home is sometimes a good result.

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"We need to do better because we're up against a very talented side in Serbia on Tuesday night".

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