Republic of Ireland held to draw by Georgia, Serbia see off Moldova



But Ireland snatched the lead just two minutes later when full-back Cyrus Christie floated a free-kick into the box and with keeper Giorgi Makaridze under pressure from Duffy and Ciaran Clark, the Brighton defender headed into the empty net.

Makaridze ensured the scores stayed level at the break with a brilliant reflex save just before half-time when Duffy met Robbie Brady's corner with a far-post header. It looked like the ideal beginning for a comfortable away win, a base for Ireland to push on and take the game to the hosts. "We can use that as a positive for Tuesday that we probably created the better of the chances without playing well".

Ireland boss Martin O'Neill had admitted before kick-off that the Group D clash was not so much a "tricky" affair as a "really, genuinely difficult" one, and so it proved as Georgia did everything within their powers to secure a first win of the campaign.

"They're a good side and we knew they were good at keeping the ball".

Shane Long also fired a volley harmlessly over the crossbar but after dominating possession, Georgia finally had their equaliser when Valeri Qazaishvili finished off an excellent move with a composed finish from eight yards out.

Arter, 27, confessed: "There is a lot of thinking about what went wrong and thankfully we have a game so soon to put things right". We came here to try and win the game, but this was always going to be a tough match.

"But tonight we didn't perform anywhere near good enough".

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"The first half was as poor as we played this campaign", he told reporters.

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.

The visitors improved after the break and James McClean and substitute Aiden McGeady both had late chances to win it as Vladimir Weiss' men exhausted, but justice would hardly have been served had either of them done so.

He said: "Obviously our aim tonight was to get the three points and get the first win in the group". "They played excep- tionally well against us past year and followed that up a couple of days later by doing brilliantly against Wales".

"I was really disappointed with the first and second half", continued the midfielder who only really showed glimpses of what had been wanted from him in the minutes before he was replaced by Aiden McGeady.

"It's a pity that we had some individual mistakes, especially the goal we conceded, but football without mistakes just does not happen and I am very happy with the way that my team played overall, with their effort". We were by no means at our best but if anything, it simplifies the job on Tuesday night - we need to win.

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