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Georgia 0-9 Ireland

Hello, and welcome to today’s liveblog.

It’s a game in which anything other than a win will be unacceptable from an Irish perspective.

Vera Pauw’s side memorably earned a historic 11-0 victory in the reverse fixture in Tallaght last November, while the Georgians followed that up with a 15-0 loss to Sweden.

That said, the hosts have made it more difficult for teams on occasion — they only lost 4-0 to Sweden at home, while they conceded three and two goals respectively to Finland and Slovakia, so this game won’t necessarily be as easy as it was last time for the Irish side.

It’s also a match where three points will be vital for Ireland.

Sweden have already qualified automatically, so second place and a spot in the playoffs is the best that the Girls in Green can hope for.

They currently trail second-place Finland by two points, albeit with a game in hand.

So a win here would put them in a strong position ahead of the final group games against Finland and Slovakia next September.

We’re underway…

Good positive run forward from Denise O’Sullivan, before Heather Payne’s cross is cleared.

Ireland have started on the front foot as expected.

Roughly 90% of the game so far has been played in the Georgian half.

Ireland haven’t really threatened yet — some of their passing has been a bit sloppy early on.

Perfect start for Ireland.

A well-worked move ends with O’Sullivan squaring it to McCabe, who powers a fine finish into the roof of the net.

Chichinadze has been booked for a late challenge on Ziu.

The pattern of the game hasn’t really changed since the goal — Ireland remain in the ascendancy with Georgia happy to soak up pressure.

As I type, Payne’s cross finds McCabe, but the Arsenal star can’t direct her attempt on target from a difficult angle.

Fahey scores her first goal in 104 internationals.

It comes from a Connolly corner, which Quinn initially heads into the path of the Liverpool defender, who nods home from close range.

This time, the goalkeeper is able to parry McCabe’s corner away to safety.

This game already feels over as a contest. It’s a case of how many Ireland can score now to boost their goal difference.

A good start for Ireland has gotten better.

It’s another corner that Georgia don’t deal with.

McCabe floats it in and Connolly is in the right place to slot home first time.

O’Sullivan puts in a dangerous cross, but Chkhartishvili makes a last-ditch challenge to prevent McCabe from getting a clean touch on it.

Moments later, O’Sullivan’s shot from distance is comfortably saved by Gabunia.

Here’s a look at all the goals so far…

It remains akin to an attack-v-defence session.

Ireland remain well on top and the way the game has panned out so far, it would no surprise if they come close to matching their 11 goals in the reverse fixture last November.

niamh-fahey-celebrates-scoring-their-second-goal-with-teammates Ireland's Niamh Fahey celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The tempo has slowed in recent minutes.

The challenge for Ireland will be to remain motivated despite virtually having the match won.

McCabe tries an audacious effort from about 30 yards out.

Gabunia gets a touch and it deflects out for a corner via the crossbar.

Georgia are having real difficulty coping with corners.

Gabunia manages to parry away the latest set-piece from Connolly.

denise-osullivan-with-tamar-kvelidze Ireland's Denise O'Sullivan with Tamar Kvelidze of Georgia. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ireland have produced a few stray passes in the last 15 minutes.

There are signs of complacency entering into the game, as it’s almost too easy for the visitors at the moment.

O’Sullivan goes down under a challenge in the area claiming a penalty, but the referee waves play on.

As I type, Ireland win their 10th corner of the first half.

The ball falls to McCabe on the edge of the area and she produces a delightful sliding chipped effort that lands in the corner of the net.

The half-time whistle sounds before Georgia have time to restart.

So that’s the end of the first half and Ireland are completely in control in what has been a professional performance against patently inferior opposition.

With three goals in the opening 18 minutes, Vera Pauw could hardly have asked for a better start.

Yet as the half wore on, sloppiness increasingly entered Ireland’s play and they will perhaps be slightly disappointed they could not score a couple more against a woeful Georgia side.

However, the visitors ended on a high with McCabe leading by example, producing another fine finish for her second and Ireland’s fourth.

Georgia, meanwhile, have offered nothing as an attacking force and will merely be hoping to keep the score down after the break, while Ireland will try to keep their standards as high as possible as they aim to boost their goal difference.

The second half is underway…

Georgia have made one change at the break.

Teona Bakradze is replaced by Irina Khaburdzania.

As I type, Gabunia has to make another save to stop a powerful O’Sullivan effort from the edge of the area.

Ireland have picked up where they left off in the first half.

Connolly puts in a superb ball and Louise Quinn is on hand with a trademark header home.

katie-mccabe-scores-their-first-goal-past-tatia-gabunia Ireland's Katie McCabe scores their first goal past Georgia goalkeeper Tatia Gabunia. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The goalkeeper has to tip away another low O’Sullivan effort.

Georgia already look like they’re wilting, while by contrast, there is no let-up from Ireland in terms of pressure on their opponents’ goal.

Ireland and Georgia both make changes.

Lucy Quinn, Abbie Larkin and Lily Agg are on for Ireland, replacing Heather Payne, Amber Barrett and Ruesha Littlejohn.

For Georgia, Mariam Danelia is off for Nino Gujabidze.

It’s a competitive debut for Lily Agg and she thought she had scored straight away.

However, it was ruled out for a handball in the build-up.

Gabunia has to parry away a well-struck McCabe free-kick from distance.

As expected, it’s been a busy evening for the Georgia goalkeeper.

It’s six now for Ireland!

McCabe curls in a free kick and Quinn heads home again.

It’s a real rout now.

Connolly curls in another exceptional ball and McCabe shows great composure, side-footing home for her hat-trick.

The 11-0 win last November was record-beaking. Can they now top that?

katie-mccabe-celebrates-scoring-their-fourth-goal-with-teammates Ireland's Katie McCabe celebrates scoring their fourth goal with teammates. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A special moment for 17-year-old Abbie Larkin, as she scores her first international goal.

Caldwell chips a ball into the area, Ziu heads it on for the teenager, who makes no mistake with her subsequent header.

The Shelbourne youngster looks like a fantastic prospect for the future.

A look at goals number seven and eight…

Ireland have just won their 18th corner, which gives a sense of how dominant they have been.

As this game draws to a close, Pauw can have few complaints with her side, as aside from a spell towards the end of the first half, Ireland have scarcely taken their foot off the pedal and are not flattered by their comprehensive lead.

Megan Connolly has been named RTÉ’s player of the match.

The Brighton star has certainly put in a few excellent crosses for the goals and has been key to this Irish victory.

Lucy Quinn puts in a good cross.

Denise O’Sullivan then beats the defender with an exquisite touch before finishing well, with the goalkeeper only able to help the ball into the net.

So that’s that. A thoroughly emphatic and deserved victory for Ireland.

The match had the intensity of a training game at times, with the Georgians wilting in the face of Irish pressure.

The hosts, who never looked capable of competing at their opponents’ level, have now conceded 50 goals in qualifying, while they’ve yet to score once.

Ireland, though, can only beat what’s in front of them, and they did so with consummate ease and professionalism.

Connolly, McCabe, Quinn and O’Sullivan were among the standouts, while it was a particularly special evening for 17-year-old Abbie Larkin, who scored what could well be the first of many goals at international level.

The result leaves Ireland’s fate in their hands — they sit second in the group, a point ahead of rivals Finland.

That game with Finland on 1 September at home now looks absolutely pivotal, though a draw could be enough to secure second, as the Finns still have table-toppers Sweden to play in their final game, though Ireland will be determined to beat Slovakia away in their final group match on 6 September regardless.

Right, that’s all from me for now.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

You can read our match report here and we’ll have more reaction to follow.

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Paul Fennessy


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