Republic of Ireland maintained their unbeaten record in Euro 2020 qualifying as they played out a lacklustre goalless draw in Georgia.
Mick McCarthy’s side struggled to create chances against their stubborn opponents, who dominated possession.
Substitute Aaron Connolly was denied a dream debut when his low shot late on was saved, before Shane Duffy headed straight at the goalkeeper.
The result means Ireland stay top of Group D with 12 points from six games.
Denmark’s defeat of Switzerland later on Saturday evening means the Republic will qualify for the finals if they win in Geneva on Tuesday.
Connolly comes close for shot-shy Ireland
The one significant moment in an otherwise forgettable encounter was the late introduction of Connolly, the 19-year-old Brighton forward who has been in the headlines in recent weeks for his Premier League exploits.
The teenager has scored two goals in five games for the Seagulls and his introduction certainly provided the energy and creativity that had been absent for the best part of 80 minutes.
After running on to a loose ball to test the Georgia goalkeeper with a low drive shortly after coming on, he had another chance soon after, racing through before putting a shot in the side-netting.
With six goals from six games, Ireland have the worst strike rate out of the top three teams in their group and only once have they managed to score more than one goal in a game. Connolly’s brief appearance at least provided a glimpse of what he could offer a mis-firing forward line.
“I wouldn’t say I was nervous I was excited, it is international debut, the proudest moment you can achieve,” Connolly said after the game.
“I got two chances and probably should have put one of them away. It is a good overall performance and we will take a point.”
Stubborn Georgia frustrate Ireland again
This will have been a case of deja vu for Ireland, who faced Georgia in similar circumstances in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup two years ago.
They were unbeaten and on top of their group but floundered to an unconvincing 1-1 draw before ultimately failing to make the finals of the tournament in Russia.
Once again, Ireland found Georgia tricky opponents to overcome as the hosts dominated for large periods of this game, although never really tested Darren Randolph.
Nine not out for Ireland – the stats
- Republic of Ireland have faced Georgia more times without ever losing than they have against any other team (W9 D2 L0).
- Georgia have won just one of their last 17 qualifying matches (D7 L9), beating Gibraltar 3-0 in June.
- Republic of Ireland are unbeaten in their last nine matches in all competitions (W4 D5 L0), their longest such run since June 2012 (15 games).
- Republic of Ireland have scored just eight goals in their last 13 away matches in all competitions, never netting more than once in a game and failing to score on five occasions.
- Georgia attempted 14 shots in this game but failed to direct any on target, while Republic of Ireland landed just three shots on target.
- Georgia have recorded three consecutive clean sheets in home qualifying matches for the first time since March 2011.
- Aaron Connolly (19y 258d) became the youngest player to make his Republic of Ireland debut since Michael Obafemi (18y & 136d) against Denmark in November 2018.
- 18GrigalavaBooked at 87mins
- 13KiteishviliSubstituted forAburjaniaat 90′minutes
- 9OkriashviliSubstituted forLobjanidzeat 79′minutes
- 11KvilitaiaSubstituted forShengeliaat 73′minutes
R. of Ireland
- 6WhelanBooked at 65mins
- 14HourihaneSubstituted forWilliamsat 90+3′minutes
- 12RobinsonSubstituted forBrowneat 73′minutes
- 21CollinsSubstituted forConnollyat 79′minutes
- Marco Guida
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Georgia 0, Republic of Ireland 0.
Second Half ends, Georgia 0, Republic of Ireland 0.
Attempt saved. Shane Duffy (Republic of Ireland) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jeff Hendrick with a cross.
Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Jimmy Tabidze.
Attempt missed. Levan Shengelia (Georgia) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Jano Ananidze.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Derrick Williams replaces Conor Hourihane.
Attempt missed. Aaron Connolly (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Glenn Whelan following a fast break.
Attempt saved. Aaron Connolly (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Substitution, Georgia. Giorgi Aburjania replaces Otar Kiteishvili.
Attempt missed. Otar Kakabadze (Georgia) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.
Gia Grigalava (Georgia) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Gia Grigalava (Georgia).
Conor Hourihane (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Georgia. Conceded by John Egan.
Hand ball by Conor Hourihane (Republic of Ireland).
Attempt missed. Guram Kashia (Georgia) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right following a corner.
Corner, Georgia. Conceded by Shane Duffy.
Corner, Georgia. Conceded by Alan Browne.
Attempt blocked. Otar Kiteishvili (Georgia) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Levan Shengelia.
Substitution, Georgia. Elguja Lobjanidze replaces Tornike Okriashvili because of an injury.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Aaron Connolly replaces James Collins.
Attempt missed. Jeff Hendrick (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right.
Substitution, Georgia. Levan Shengelia replaces Giorgi Kvilitaia.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Alan Browne replaces Callum Robinson.
Otar Kiteishvili (Georgia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jeff Hendrick (Republic of Ireland).
Foul by Otar Kiteishvili (Georgia).
Jeff Hendrick (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Jano Ananidze (Georgia) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.
Glenn Whelan (Republic of Ireland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Jano Ananidze (Georgia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Glenn Whelan (Republic of Ireland).
Foul by Gia Grigalava (Georgia).
James Collins (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Otar Kakabadze (Georgia) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Valeri Qazaishvili.
Foul by Jimmy Tabidze (Georgia).
Jeff Hendrick (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Hand ball by Giorgi Kvilitaia (Georgia).
Attempt blocked. Otar Kiteishvili (Georgia) header from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Jimmy Tabidze (Georgia) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jano Ananidze with a cross.