Ireland remain hopeful of automatic qualification to 2016 Euros

Republic of Ireland v Georgia - UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier

Ireland kept their hopes of automatic qualification for the 2016 European Championship alive last night after a lethargic 1-0 win against tough opponents Georgia in Dublin.

And there was no two ways about it, it was a must win game with Ireland going into Monday night's game two points adrift of second placed Poland, who had a somewhat easier night in store against Gibraltar, who they beat 7-0 last time out.

Crucial game

After picking up a straightforward three points against the small British island off the coast of Spain a few days ago, winning 4-0, confidence was high in Ireland as the home side welcomed the Eastern Europeans in front of a packed out Aviva stadium.

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It didn't start quite according to plan, however. Martin O'Neill's side looked tired in the early stages of the first half, and struggled to get a foothold in the game. And with it looking increasingly unlikely that they would break the deadlock, the former Celtic and Aston Villa boss sent on Shane Long in place of veteran Robbie Keane.

From there on in, the game changed in favour of the men in green. Seamus Coleman came alive having been drafted back in for young Cyrus Christie, and Ireland kept pressing until their hard work paid off.

The impressive Jeff Hendrick, who had numerous chances to score himself, provided the assist, beating three Georgian players and playing the ball in towards John Walters who slotted home at the near post for a winner late on.

Republic of Ireland v Georgia - UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier

Ireland eventually saw the game out, but picked up a costly pair of yellow cards as Glen Whelan and James McClean were booked late on and will miss Ireland's crucial game against Germany next month.

Still a chance

Ireland still remain two points behind Poland, who put an impressive eight goals past Gibraltar who also managed to get on the scoresheet themselves, with the final score 8-1.

Ireland's remaining two games are against Germany and Poland, and two wins would ensure automatic qualification, yet there are a number of ways it is possible, it all depends on how results go.

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O'Neill and his men will take great comfort having seen how close Scotland came to picking up points off of Germany tonight, and the dream is still very much alive for Ireland as a third place finish ensures them a shot at the play-offs, should they miss out on second place.

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