Georgia Stun Portugal To Qualify For Euros Last 16 With Turkey

Georgia advanced to the last 16 of Euro 2024 after defeating Portugal 2-0 on Wednesday, a historic victory in the former Soviet Republic’s first major international tournament.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia gave Georgia a surprising lead against a second-string Portugal team with just over a minute on the clock in Gelsenkirchen.

Georges Mikautadze then secured Georgia would clinch the largest football triumph in the Black Sea nation’s history with a 57th-minute penalty.

Willy Sagnol’s squad qualified from Group F as one of the four best third-placed finishers after their first-ever European Championship triumph, which set up a daunting showdown with red-hot Spain on Sunday.

Portugal had already advanced for the next round as group winners and coach Roberto Martinez made eight changes from the team which swept Turkey aside to guarantee first place last weekend.

However, his team were on top for most of the encounter and appeared likely to equalise before Antonio Silva, who gave the ball away for the first goal, was unfairly penalized for mild contact with Luka Lochoshvili to give away the decisive penalty.

Regardless Portugal will face Slovenia on Monday and, saving any injuries, Martinez will have a mostly rested first XI to call upon.

History makers

Portugal’s forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after his team lost the UEFA Euro 2024 Group F football match between Georgia and Portugal at the Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen on June 26, 2024. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)

Kvaratskhelia benefited from Silva’s sloppy passing to Mikautadze, who had scored in Georgia’s previous two matches against Turkey and the Czech Republic before turning provider.

Mikautadze sent a superbly weighted pass to Kvaratskhelia, who surged through on goal from his favored position in the inside-right channel and stroked home with perfection.

Georgia’s finishing was unusually clinical, and if they had taken advantage of their opportunities, they would have had more than one point into Wednesday’s match.

From then, Sagnol’s team was content to sit back and defend their slim lead while Portugal launched waves of attack against a crowded defence.

Ronaldo first hammered a free kick straight at Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili in the 17th minute, before being booked just before the half-hour mark for dissent following what he perceived to be a foul by Lochoshvili.

Francisco Conceicao struck the side netting while Ronaldo complained to referee Sandro Scherer, and Joao Felix fired a long-range attempt that went just wide.

Ronaldo’s frustrations began almost immediately after halftime, as he appeared to score from a corner, only for Lasha Dvali to unknowingly rescue the day with his back.

Kvaratskhelia then squandered an excellent opportunity to double his team’s lead before Mikautadze, Georgia’s finest player in the competition, scored his third goal in as many games from the penalty spot.

Georgia then closed ranks and made rare but threatening incursions into Portugal’s defensive third, holding on for the victory to the delight of their fans.

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