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Euro 2024: Spain beats Georgia 4-1 to advance to quarterfinals

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Credit:Spain’s defender #14 Aymeric Laporte heads the ball during the UEFA Euro 2024 round of 16 football match between Spain and Georgia at the Cologne Stadium in Cologne on June 30, 2024. 

Spain will now play host nation Germany in the quarterfinals on Friday, July 5, in Stuttgart.

Spain recovered from conceding an early own goal to beat (Eastern Europe’s) Georgia 4-1 for a spot in the Euro 2024 quarterfinals on Sunday, June 30, ending one of the tournament’s most compelling underdog stories.

Goals from midfielders Rodri and Fabián Ruiz brought Spain back into the game after Robin Le Normand’s own goal in the 18th minute had given Georgia a shock lead. Nico Williams and Dani OImo then stole the game out of Georgia’s reach with two more goals late in the game as heavy rain fell.

Spain will play host nation Germany in the quarterfinals on Friday in Stuttgart.

The loss ends Georgia’s first-ever major tournament campaign, which included a 2-0 upset win over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.

Despite the lopsided score, Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili had another standout game with nine saves to prevent a rout.

Spain had beaten Georgia 7-1 in qualifying last year, but this game was a close contest until the last 20 minutes and testament to Georgia’s rapid improvement under coach Willy Sagnol.

Playing its fourth game of Euro 2024, Spain had yet to concede a goal all tournament.

That soon changed when Otar Kakabadze surged down the right flank for Georgia and crossed low. Le Normand chested the ball past his own goalkeeper with the defender apparently distracted by Khvicha Kvaratskhelia arriving behind him to meet the cross.

Spain took its time to get back into the game, but Rodri – back from a one-game suspension – leveled the score in the 39th with a low shot from just outside the box.

‘We can do great things’

Georgia remained a threat on the counter, including with an audacious shot from the halfway line by Kvaratskhelia but Spain midfielder Ruiz made it 2-1 in the 51st when he rose unmarked to meet a cross from the 16-year-old Lamine Yamal.

Needing a goal, Georgia had to open up its compact defensive formation and conceded twice more as Williams scored in the 75th and substitute Olmo eight minutes later.

After the final whistle, Georgia’s players gathered in front of their fans for a slow-clap chant reminiscent of another European Championship underdog – Iceland – when it beat England in 2016.

After the win, Williams stated, “We are very happy to have made it to the quarterfinals, very excited, step by step, we have shown that we are a great team and if we continue at this level we can do great things.”

Le Monde with AP

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