Georgia 2-0 Portugal (Jun 26, 2024) Game Analysis

Georgia booked a place in the last 16 of Euro 2024 in their debut appearance at a major tournament, with a 2-0 win over Portugal on Wednesday in the biggest upset in European Championship history.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia‘s early goal and a Georges Mikautadze penalty earned Georgia, ranked 74th in the FIFA rankings, the win over already-qualified Portugal, ranked sixth.

Slovakia’s (48th) win over Belgium (3rd) earlier this tournament previously held the distinction for the biggest upset by FIFA rankings.

The win, albeit against a largely second-string Portugal who had already made it into the next round, also represented the greatest result for Georgia since the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Coming from a disappointing fourth in their Euro qualifying group, Georgia had to take a circuitous route to Germany, first by winning their group in the less glamorous UEFA Nations League tournament and then defeating Greece in a playoff.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia set Georgia on the path to victory and a place in the round of 16.

Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

But there was nothing undeserved about the way Coach Willy Sagnol, the former Bayern Munich and France defender, and his side claimed a third-place finish in the tournament’s Group F and set up a last-16 meeting with three-time Euro winners Spain.

Georgia’s win also means that England will line up against Slovakia, Romania will take on Netherlands and Portugal will face Slovenia in the round of 16. Hungary, who had been in contention for a spot in the next round, were edged out.

The tournament debutants took the lead in the second minute when Kvaratskhelia, the Napoli winger, raced away after a careless pass by António Silva and powered a low shot past Diogo Costa in Portugal’s goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo — one of only three starters for Portugal who also played in their 3-0 win over Turkey on Saturday — stretched and strained for every ball as he sought to become the oldest goal scorer at a Euro tournament at the age of 39.

But Georgia defended as if their lives depended upon it and sought to catch Portugal on the break. In the 53rd minute, Silva compounded his earlier error by committing a foul in the box that was awarded a penalty after a VAR check.

Mikautadze, who had provided the pass for Kvaratskhelia to open the scoring early on, steered his spot kick past Costa, making him the top scorer at Euro 2024 so far with three goals.

Ronaldo was booked in the first half for arguing and cut a frustrated figure when he was substituted after the break, kicking out at a water bottle.

Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili made late saves to keep Portugal at bay in the final minutes, and at full time Georgia’s squad and coaching staff sprinted onto the field to celebrate in front of thousands of their fans.

Information from Reuters and ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.