Georgia Arrives at the Euros

by Ben Ayuko

{image by sportsmole}

Sorry Georgia, I was not familiar with your game.

Neither were you, reader. I don’t think anybody was. Or at least, I don’t think anybody thought Georgia would beat Portugal, deservedly, let alone qualify for the knockout rounds of the European championship. On their first time in the competition no less.

And I mean “Deservedly“. Quite literally from the 1st minute of the game {technically 1:30} when Georgia Starboy, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, raced through on goal after latching onto a through ball from teammate Georges Mikautadze and finished tidily passed the Portuguese keeper, Diogo Costa. This early goal seemed to spark a seemingly dormant flame that had been inside this Georgia team all along, just waiting for a chance to shine. And shine they did.

Now, Portugal is one of the best teams in the world, so obviously they had chances to score from the likes of Ronaldo, Joao Felix, Pedro Neto, etc. But none of them managed to breach this very inspired Georgian defense. Their goalkeeper, Giorgi Mamardashvili, in particular had quite a stellar performance, making 5 saves including a particularly powerful freekick from Ronaldo. And with every chance he saved, it only seemed to spur Georgia on. They were trading shots on either end of the pitch with Georgia holding their own and going toe-to-toe with one the best teams in the world let alone in Europe.

Just as Portugal started to get a handle on the game and it seemed like the inevitable outcome, we all knew was going to happen, was going to happen, Georgia earned themselves a penalty kick and Georges Mikautadze , after registering the assist for the first goal, dispatched the spot kick with finesse to seal the deal and confirm Georgia’s progress into the Round of 16.

The dream lives on.

Elsewhere, Cenk Tosun scored in the dying minutes of injury time (90min+4) to secure 2nd spot for Turkey and ensure safe progression through to the round of 16. Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s powerful drive into the bottom corner had given Turkey the lead before Tomáš Souček equalized for the Czech Republic. It was quite a comeback considering they’d had a man sent off in the 1st half.

Portugal progressed as group winners followed by Turkey then Georgia. Let us see what they can muster in the next round.

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