Walters keeps Ireland's Euro 2016 qualification hopes alive

Walters keeps Ireland's Euro 2016 qualification hopes alive

JONATHAN Walters kept Ireland’s Euro 2016 qualification hopes alive with a second-half strike in their 1-0 home victory against Georgia.

Ireland are still four points behind Group D leaders Germany and remain third in the table, but they are now well-placed to secure a play-off spot.

Martin O’Neill’s men have two matches remaining against Germany at home on October 8 and away to Poland three days later.

A win from either game would guarantee Ireland a play-off spot.

After the match, Walters said: "It was all about the result tonight. It was tough but we knew it was going to be that.

"We managed a 1-0 (win) and we couldn't have asked for any more. Fair play to Jeff Hendrick. He made the goal for me. He's got that ability. He's a top quality player.”

In what was Ireland’s ‘must-win’ match at the Aviva Stadium on Monday night, it was Walters who scored the only goal of the game for the hosts in the 69th minute.

A fine run by Hendrick set up the match-winning goal, following Ireland’s nervy first-half display.

Georgia appeared to be the side more in control in the opening half.

Levan Mchedlidze surged into the penalty area in the 11th minute, but Shay Given was untroubled by his weak attempt.

Ireland responded in the 30th minute with a fine cross from Hendrick, but Robbie Keane failed to connect with the pass.

Seamus Coleman came close minutes later, hitting the ball into the hands of goalkeeper Nukri Revishvil.

Unconvinced by his first-half performance, O’Neill replaced captain Keane at the interval with Shane Long.

Ireland began the second half with greater pace, with Hendrick bursting through the Georgian defence to slide home Walters’ cross and secure his side an important victory.