Shay Given has warned the Republic of Ireland not to under-estimate resurgent Georgia as the Euro 2016 qualifying game approaches crunch point.
The Georgians handed their Group D rivals a significant boost on Friday evening when they defeated Scotland 1-0 in Tbilisi hours before Ireland beat Gibraltar 4-0 in Faro to climb above Gordon Strachan’s men in the table.
With Germany having replaced Poland at the top of the pool with a 3-1 victory over them in Frankfurt, it is realistically a two-way fight between Martin O’Neill’s side and the Scots for third place and a crack at the play-offs.
However, the Republic’s hopes would be dealt a serious blow if they failed to follow up their win in Portugal with a similar outcome against Georgia at the Aviva Stadium on Monday, with the Germans and the Poles the tricky opposition lying in wait next month.
Given said: “We wanted them to win [against Scotland], but the thing is they’ll be coming to Dublin with confidence and belief. But we will have plenty of confidence as well after the win tonight. We could have had more goals as well.
“We played some good stuff, created some good chances – but it will be a different game. Obviously Georgia are a better team than the guys (on Friday night), so it will be a tougher game, but we are at home and we need to win the game.
“We said after the Scottish game in Dublin that there would still be a few twists and turns, and (Friday) has shown that that’s the case.
“Scotland will be kicking themselves a little bit, but there are still a lot of games to play – well, three. But after (Friday), we have got tough games coming up.
“Obviously Monday is the game now. We have got to recover and try to get a win on Monday night.”
Given and his team-mates were aware of what had happened at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena before kick-off at the Estadio Algarve, but the 39-year-old admitted that it had done little to change their approach.
He said: “Not really. If anything, it might give you a little boost because they have dropped the points. But we knew we had to win the game whatever happened with Scotland. We did that and we roll on. Monday is a huge game now.”
Given, who was winning his 131st senior cap, was a spectator for much of the game, although he had to make two important first-half saves from Gibraltar midfielder Liam Walker, who fully extended him from distance with Jeff Wood’s side much improved from the 7-0 demolition job in Dublin last October.
Given said: “These games, sometimes you think you will have nothing to do, but at 1-0 I made a couple of saves and you are on a hiding to nothing, really, because even when you are two, three-nil up, they still want to bomb forward to try to get a goal and get their name on the scoresheet.
“It was important that we kept a clean sheet. It’s good for myself, good for the back four and the team as a unit to keep a clean sheet.
“People say yes, it’s not great opposition, but they have still got some players – they scored against Scotland in Glasgow, so they have still got players who can cause a couple of problems.”