DUBLIN (REUTERS) - Ireland eventually got the better of Georgia in their Euro 2016 qualifier at the Aviva Stadium on Monday with a 1-0 win to push them further ahead of rivals Scotland in the battle for a third place playoff spot in Group D.
Georgia's surprise 1-0 victory over the Scots on Friday gave Ireland's flagging qualification chances a major boost and Martin O'Neil's side looked like they might not take advantage until Jonathan Walters second half strike.
The win put Ireland four points clear in third place after Germany's 3-2 victory in Glasgow and they will not need a result against the group leading Germans or Poland if Scotland fail to get at least a draw against the Poles and a win over Gibraltar.
Ireland failed to take hold of the game from the beginning and the visitors shaded a poor first half with the home side's only chances from captain Robbie Keane and fullback Seamus Coleman book ending periods of sustained Georgian possession.
Everton's Coleman was by far Ireland's best player and provided a constant threat down the right wing in the second half as Ireland took control, peppering Nukri Revishvili's goal until the breakthrough came on 69 minutes.
Jeff Hendrick, who also had a fine second half, beat three Georgian players with a mazy dribble down the left hand side and pulled it back for Walters, who beat two other defenders at the front post to bundle it home from close range.
James McClean almost made it two in injury time for the hosts who next face Germany in Dublin on Oct 8 before wrapping up their campaign three nights later with a trip to second-placed Poland, whom they trail by two points.