window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'G-QV9HFVZD64'); Georgia Makes History by Beating Portugal, Reaching Euro Knockouts author - TELCOTELCO

Georgia Makes History by Beating Portugal, Reaching Euro Knockouts

Georgia has advanced to the last 16 of Euro 2024 following a historic 2-0 victory over Portugal on Wednesday. This landmark win marks the first time the former Soviet Republic has reached the knockout stage in a major international tournament.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia opened the scoring with a fine finish just two minutes into the match in Gelsenkirchen, while Georges Mikautadze secured the win with a 57th-minute penalty. This victory represents the greatest football achievement in Georgia’s history.

Following the final whistle, Georgia’s players celebrated with their ecstatic fans, having inflicted Portugal’s first defeat since the 2022 World Cup. Their performance has been a highlight of the tournament.

Willy Sagnol’s team qualified from Group F as one of the four best third-placed finishers and will face Spain, who won all their group games, on Sunday.

“We just made history, nobody would have believed that we would have made it happen by beating Portugal, but this is why we are a strong team,” Kvaratskhelia told reporters. “If there is even one percent chance you can make it happen if you believe.”

Portugal had already secured their place in the next round as group winners, allowing coach Roberto Martinez to make eight changes from the team that defeated Turkey to guarantee first place. Despite dominating much of the match, Portugal failed to equalize after Antonio Silva, who gave the ball away for the first goal, was penalized for light contact with Luka Lochoshvili, leading to the decisive penalty.

“We didn’t underestimate Georgia but it is true that they were playing the biggest game in their history,” Martinez said. “We were playing the last game when we were already top of our group and it was difficult for us to match their intensity.”

He added: “We conceded an early goal which is what Georgia wanted and needed. Then after that we didn’t have the clarity, or a good enough final ball, to get in on goal, and their goalkeeper played very well. We couldn’t get a goal which gave Georgia extra strength and belief, and they deserved the victory.”

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

Key Moments

Kvaratskhelia capitalized on Silva’s mistake, receiving a perfectly-weighted pass from Mikautadze, who had already scored in both of Georgia’s previous matches against Turkey and the Czech Republic. Kvaratskhelia burst through on goal and finished with precision from his preferred inside-right position.

Georgia, often criticized for their lack of clinical finishing, managed to hold onto their early lead as Portugal launched repeated attacks against a packed defense.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a free-kick saved by Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili in the 17th minute and was booked for dissent before the half-hour mark after disputing a foul from Lochoshvili. Francisco Conceicao hit the side netting, while Joao Felix narrowly missed with a long-range effort.

Ronaldo’s frustrations continued after half-time when Lasha Dvali inadvertently blocked what seemed a certain goal. Kvaratskhelia missed a chance to extend Georgia’s lead, but Mikautadze converted a penalty for his third goal in three games.

Georgia then focused on defense while making occasional dangerous forays into Portugal’s defensive third, securing the win to the delight of their supporters.

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