Metro

Euro 2024: Newcomers Georgia shock Portugal 2-0

Georgia stunned former champions Portugal 2-0 on Wednesday to reach the knockout stage at Euro 2024, their first ever major tournament.

The match was settled by an early Khvicha Kvaratskhelia strike and a Georges Mikautadze penalty kick.

The win, albeit against a largely second-string Portugal who had already made it into the next round, represented the greatest result for Georgia.

This was since the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

But there was nothing undeserved about the way Willy Sagnol, a former Bayern Munich and France defender, and his side claimed a third-place finish in the tournament’s Group F.

It was a win that had now set them up for a last-16 meeting with three-time Euro winners Spain.

Georgia’s win also means that England will line up against Slovakia, Romania take on Netherlands and Portugal face Slovenia in the round of 16.

Hungary, who had been in contention for a spot in the next round, were edged out.

The tournament debutants took the lead in the second minute when Kvaratskhelia, the Napoli winger, raced away after a careless pass by Antonio Silva.

He then powered a low shot past Diogo Costa in Portugal’s goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo —- one of only three starters for Portugal who also played in their 3-0 win over Turkey on Saturday —- stretched and strained for every ball.

This was as he sought to become the oldest goal scorer at a Euro tournament at the age of 39.

But Georgia defended as if their lives depended upon it and sought to catch Portugal on the break.

In the 53rd minute, Silva compounded his earlier error by committing a foul in the penalty box which led to an award of a penalty kick after a VAR check.

Mikautadze, who had provided the pass for Kvaratskhelia to open the scoring early on, steered his kick past Costa, making him the top scorer at Euro 2024 so far with three goals.

Ronaldo was booked in the first half for arguing and he cut a frustrated figure when he was substituted after the break, kicking out at a water bottle.

Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili made late saves to keep Portugal at bay in the final minutes.

At full time, Georgia’s squad and coaching staff sprinted on to the field to celebrate in front of thousands of their fans.

Turkey face Austria in Euro last-16 clash after Czechs defeat

Meanwhile, Turkey on Wednesday night overcame tough resistance from 10-man Czech Republic in a 2-1 victory at the ongoing Euro 2024 tournament.

Goals from Hakan Calhanoglu and Cenk Tosun were enough for them to set up a last-16 clash with Austria and send their opponents home.

The Czechs, quarter-finalists at the last European Championship, needed victory to stand any chance of advancing, but the 20th-minute dismissal of midfielder Antonin Barak for a harsh second yellow card was a blow to their attacking intent.

In a chaotic and heated end to the game, Czech Republic’s Tomas Chory was also given a red card in a melee seconds before the final whistle.

As well as the two reds, the referee also showed 16 yellow cards to set a new Euros disciplinary record.

Both teams pressed hard from the start in a raucous atmosphere on a hot night with Turkish fans marching to the game and outnumbering the Czechs thanks to their huge diaspora in Germany.

Thirty-year-old playmaker Calhanoglu’s 50th-minute goal was a first at his third Euros, triggering flares and delirium from fans.

He scored with a low shot across goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek who had appeared to hurt his shoulder with a save just before and went off injured after the goal.

Teenager Arda Guler inexplicably missed a close-range sitter to put Turkey two ahead and the Czechs immediately equalised, Tomas Soucek prodding home in the 66th minute after a long throw caused chaos to set up a thrilling finale.

Tosun struck Turkey’s winner in stoppage time, sparking wild scenes on his bench and among Turkish fans.

The result banished the Turks’ dark memories of Euro 2020 where they went home after conceding eight goals in three defeats.

“We all fought very well together,” said defender Mert Muldur. “We had a hard time against such teams in the past. I think we have improved ourselves.”

After two wins in three games, Turkey finished second behind Portugal in Group F on goal difference and will play Austria in the last 16 on July 2 in Leipzig.

“When we talked with our friends before the camp, our only target was to get out of the group.

We kept our promise and left the group. Now we will proceed step by step; we are very happy,” said Turkey winger Baris Alper Yilmaz.

The Czechs finished bottom of the group with one point.

“It is a disappointment because we all wanted to advance,” captain Soucek said, lamenting how the “disrespectful” soft red card had affected the game.

“We were happy to get the equaliser,” he added. “Everyone did the maximum. The morale was huge. Just a sad end. But that is football.”

Portugal, already guaranteed top place in the group but lost to Georgia who went through as one of the best third-placed finishers.

Back to top button