Euro 2024: Newcomers Georgia beat Portugal 2-0 to enter knockouts

Euro 2024: Newcomers Georgia beat Portugal 2-0 to enter knockouts


Khvicha Kvaratskhelia of Georgia rushes into the box under pressure from Diogo Dalot of Portugal during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Georgia and Portugal at Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen, Germany on June 26, 2024, while Antonio Silva, Joao Neves and Francisco Conceicao of Portugal look on.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia of Georgia charges into the box under pressure from Diogo Dalot of Portugal during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Georgia and Portugal at Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen, Germany on June 26, 2024. Antonio Silva, Joao Neves and Francisco Conceicao of Portugal look on. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Georgia pulled off the biggest upset in Euro history with a 2-0 win over Portugal on Wednesday to reach the knock-out stage of their first major tournament thanks to an early goal from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and a penalty from Georges Mikoutadze.

The win, although it was against a nominally second-rate Portugal side who had already qualified for the next round, was Georgia's biggest since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The match, played in front of thousands of Georgian fans, was the biggest upset in terms of rankings, with a team ranked 74th in the world facing Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal, ranked sixth and the 2016 European champions.

After a disappointing fourth place in their Euro qualifying group, Georgia had to take a circuitous route to reach Germany, first winning their group in the less lucrative Euro Nations tournament and then beating Greece in the play-offs.

But there was nothing unfair about the way coach Willy Sagnol, the former Bayern Munich and France defender, and his side finished third in Group F of the tournament and booked a place in the last-16 alongside three-time Euro winners Spain.

When these two teams met in the qualifying stages for the tournament in Germany last September, Spain beat Georgia 7-1 in Tbilisi.

Georgia's win also means that England will face Slovakia, Romania will face the Netherlands and Portugal will face Slovenia. Hungary, which was looking to make it to the next round, is out.

In the other Group F match on Wednesday, Turkey secured their place in the last 16 with a 2-1 win over 10-man Czech Republic, who now have to go home.

Georgia, playing for the first time in the tournament, took the lead in the second minute when Napoli winger Kvaratskelia pounced on a careless pass from Antonio Silva and fired a low shot over Diogo Costa in the Portugal goal.

Ronaldo – one of only three Portugal starters who also featured in Saturday's 3-0 win over Turkey – was feeling the pull and strain for every ball 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 on it and tried to catch Portugal on the break. In the 53rd minute, Silva compounded his earlier mistake by committing a foul in the box which was awarded as a penalty after a VAR check.

Mikoutadze, who had provided Kvaratskhelia with the pass to open the scoring early, headed his spot kick past Costa, leaving him as the top scorer so far at Euro 2024 with three goals.

Ronaldo was booked for arguing in the first half and was seen kicking a water bottle in frustration when he was substituted after the break. It is the first time in his long career that he has failed to score in the group stage of a major international tournament.

Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili made a last-minute save to stop Portugal, and at full-time the rest of the team and coaching staff ran onto the field to jump and dance in front of their fans.

The celebrations were completely justified. Georgia came close to drawing with Turkey but lost 3-1 in their opening match and also missed a great chance to draw 1-1 with the Czech Republic a few days later, leaving them agonisingly close to being eliminated – until a historic night in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday.


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