Georgia Secures Historic Victory Over Portugal to Advance in Euro 2024

Georgia secures a historic 2-0 victory over Portugal to advance in Euro 2024. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Georges Mikautadze lead Georgia to its most significant win in European Championship history, marking a stunning debut at the tournament.

6/27/20242 min read

Georgia Secures Historic Victory Over Portugal to Advance in Euro 2024

Georgia secured a spot in the last 16 of Euro 2024 in their debut appearance at a major tournament with a 2-0 victory over Portugal on Wednesday, marking the biggest upset by FIFA rankings in European Championship history.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia's early goal and a Georges Mikautadze penalty led Georgia, ranked 74th in the FIFA rankings, to the win over an already-qualified Portugal team, ranked sixth in the world and champions in 2016.

Previously, Slovakia's (ranked 48th) win over Belgium (ranked third) earlier in the tournament held the record for the biggest upset.

The victory, despite coming against a largely second-string Portugal team, stands as Georgia's most significant result since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

After a disappointing fourth-place finish in their Euro qualifying group, Georgia took a challenging route to Germany by first winning their group in the UEFA Nations League and then defeating Greece in a playoff.

Under coach Willy Sagnol, the former Bayern Munich and France defender, Georgia achieved a third-place finish in Group F and set up a last-16 clash with three-time Euro winners Spain.

When Georgia and Spain met in September during the qualifying stage for Euro 2024 in Germany, Spain dominated with a 7-1 victory in Tbilisi.

"When you are the small team of the competition ... you know you have nothing to lose...You have no weight on your shoulders," Sagnol told reporters. "Today I don't have a lot of words. I feel very proud to be their manager."

Georgia's win also means that England will face Slovakia, Romania will play against the Netherlands, and Portugal will meet Slovenia in the round of 16. Hungary, who were in contention, missed out.

In another Group F match on Wednesday, Turkey secured their place in the round of 16 with a 2-1 win over 10-man Czechia, who are now eliminated.

Georgia, the tournament debutants, took an early lead when Kvaratskhelia, the Napoli winger, intercepted a careless pass by António Silva and scored past Diogo Costa in Portugal's goal.

"We can fight against everyone," Kvaratskhelia told reporters. "I'm so proud."

Ronaldo, one of only three players who also started in Portugal's 3-0 win over Turkey, worked tirelessly as he sought to become the oldest goal scorer at a Euro tournament at 39.

However, Georgia defended resolutely and looked to counterattack. In the 53rd minute, Silva's foul in the box resulted in a penalty after a VAR check. Mikautadze, who assisted Kvaratskhelia's early goal, converted the penalty, making him the top scorer at Euro 2024 with three goals.

Ronaldo was booked in the first half for dissent and showed his frustration when substituted, kicking a water bottle. It is the first time he has failed to score in the group stage of a major international tournament.

Georgia's goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili made crucial saves late in the game to maintain the lead. At full time, the team and coaching staff celebrated joyously in front of their fans.

The celebrations were well-deserved. Georgia had a tough start, losing 3-1 to Turkey and drawing 1-1 with Czechia, leaving them close to elimination until their historic win over Portugal.

2024 Euro Championship League Table Group F: