Georgia turn on the heat against Portugal in Euro 2024

Cristiano Ronaldo and Georgia
Cristiano Ronaldo and Georgia (PC: X)

Georgia created history and in style. In their last group game, which was a must-win for them, they, defeated Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal 2-0, sending the travelling Georgian fans into a frenzy at the Veltins-Arena. With this win, they secured third position in the group in Euro 2024, which was enough to qualify for the knockout stage.

Georgia’s performance in all three games in their maiden appearance in this prestigious tournament has been commendable. Against Turkey, they lost 1-3 but the scoreline does not reflect the quality and intensity of their play throughout the 90 minutes. It was, arguably, one of the best games of this Euro with action being end-to-end and open on both sides. The Turkish defence proved too solid to break despite Georgia creating numerous chances and displaying a never-say-die attitude. In the following game against Czechia, they led 1-0 before Patrick Schik scored an equaliser.

Portugal entered this clash after winning their first two games, ensuring their qualification for the next round. Consequently, Portugal’s head coach Roberto Martinez made eight changes to their starting line-up, surprising many fans. However, this might not have been due to complacency, as Martinez was likely assessing his bench options ahead of the knockout stage.

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Georgia vs Portugal
Georgia vs Portugal (PC: X)

This strategy did not pan out well. In the second minute, Antonio Silva’s loose pass was intercepted by Mikautadze. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia then ran down the left wing and scored with a neat finish, giving Georgia an early lead. This turned out to be the fifth fastest goal in Euro history, as Napoli’s ‘Kvaradona’ announced his arrival on the biggest stage.

It was a night when Ronaldo became the first European player to reach 50 appearances in major international competitions, but he failed to make a significant impact. Portugal dominated possession and passing but struggled to penetrate the final third. Georgia, on the other hand, focused on counterattacks.

In the 29th minute, Ronaldo received a yellow card for arguing with the referee, expressing his dissatisfaction with a ruling. The first half ended 1-0, but Georgia surprisingly played with more pace and intensity in the second half.

Kvaratskhelia vs Portugal
Kvaratskhelia vs Portugal (PC: Euro 2024/X)

Once again, it was Silva who fouled Lochoshvili in the box, and VAR confirmed a penalty for Georgia. Mikautadze made no mistake from the spot, scoring his third goal of the tournament. Ronaldo’s struggles were evident, leading Martinez to substitute him in the 65th minute with Gonçalo Ramos. Despite bringing on the likes of Nunes and Jota, Portugal failed to turn the tide as Georgia registered a historic victory and entered the Round of 16. They will face Spain while Portugal will lock horns with Slovenia.  

Interestingly, 11 players from this Georgian squad hail from the Erovnuli Liga side Dinamo Tbilisi academy, which Cristiano Ronaldo inaugurated back in 2013. Now, they have qualified for the knockout in their first-ever major tournament with a win against him. This is one of the most beautiful stories from Euro 2024.

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