herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Ireland and Scotland wary of Georgia threat despite late Warsaw collapse

A SHELL-SHOCKED Georgia side will spent the summer picking up the pieces and trying to prepare for September battles with Scotland and Ireland after they were taken apart by Robert Lewandowski.

A full house in Warsaw on Saturday had expected a comfortable home win for Poland over a Georgia side who have changed managers mid-stream in this campaign but without an upswing in form, new boss Kakha Tskhadadze suffering a second defeat in his two competitive games.

But, in a game which which concern both Gordon Strachan and Martin O'Neill and will require close DVD analysis from both men, Poland laboured for large parts of the match against a spirited Georgian side, the game was 0-0 at half time and with a minute of normal time remaining, Poland led by only a one-goal margin, a stunning strike from distance by Ajax man Arkadiusz Milik, only for Robert Lewandowski to score a remarkable hat-trick late on and give Poland a flattering 4-0 win.

Scotland visit Tbilisi in September, on the same day that Ireland take on Gibraltar in Faro, and four days later Georgia head to Dublin.

And Irish fans would be foolish to expect a stroll in the park against Georgia as the Republic have struggled to get past the Georgians: Ireland do have five wins from five competitive meetings with them but four of those were by a one-goal margin and a home win in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers was only secured by a very dodgy penalty.

Boss Tskhadadze was frustrated that his side undid their good work with that late collapse.

"The last five minutes were a disaster, in football you must play to the end but. What happened at the end of the match is unacceptable for us," said the Georgia coach.

"I am responsible for the result. We must analyse mistakes.

"We were dominating at times until the 87th minute, when we were losing 1-0, but we couldn't take our chances. and I don't want to talk about the last three minutes, it was a catastrophe," added the recently-installed boss, who paid tribute to the opposition.

"Poland are a machine which works well and they can achieve a lot."

Georgia taking points off Scotland in Tbilisi is possible and would open up the play-off door for Ireland.

But Ireland need to comfortably beat Georgia in Dublin, something that's not guaranteed if the Georgians bring their Warsaw form to Ireland.

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