Turkey 3-1 Georgia (Jun 18, 2024) Game Analysis

Teenager Arda Güler’s superb long-range strike helped Turkey to a winning start in their Euro 2024 campaign with a 3-1 result over tournament debutants Georgia amid a fevered atmosphere in Dortmund on Tuesday.

Güler became the youngest player to score on his debut at a Euro at the age of 19 years and 114 days — beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s record — and the fifth youngest ever to score at the tournament.

Mert Muldur gave Turkey a deserved lead in the 25th minute, smashing a swerving volley past helpless Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili from the edge of the box.

Georgia, playing their first major international tournament, equalised in the 32nd minute when Georges Mikautadze turned Giorgi Kochorashvili‘s cross past Mert Gunok, who should have done better in covering his near post.

Turkey looked livelier in the second half and controlled the action again, cornering Georgia with their relentless high pressure while still leaving themselves open to counters on both wings.

The 19-year-old Güler, coming into the tournament fresh from a run of goals for Real Madrid, scored after 65 minutes, curling an unstoppable shot into the top corner. Georgia pressed for a late equaliser but, with Mamardashvili coming up for a series of corners, Kerem Akturkoglu broke away and passed into an empty net in added time to make it 3-1.

Turkey players celebrate after scoring a goal in their Euro-opening win over Georgia.
Turkey players celebrate after scoring a goal in their Euro-opening win over Georgia.

“I am just thrilled, no words to describe how I feel,” man-of-the-match Güler said after the game. “I was dreaming of this goal constantly. I am working extra hard to give back to the amazing love I’ve been receiving.

“I’ve been practising this particular shot recently at the end of training sessions. I am so happy to have scored this way. [Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti] messaged me earlier today and wished me luck.”

Güler’s intervention was crucial and was the latest in a string of outside-of-the-area strikes at these Euros. It also was another demonstration of his talent that was on display when he scored five goals in five games to finish a Spanish league season that he mostly missed because of injury. He was an unused substitute in the Champions League final — won by Madrid.

He’ll likely find game time even harder to come by next season following the arrival of Kylian Mbappé and Endrick, even if Ancelotti is aware he has a gem on his hands in Guler.

Georgia, at No. 75 the lowest-ranked nation at Euro 2024, could easily have snatched a point from a game played at a frenetic pace.

In stoppage time and with their goalkeeper Mamardashvili upfield in search of a goal, Georgia whipped in a free kick that struck the post before a shot from the rebound was cleared off the line.

“The feelings are a bit mixed. We had many chances to score,” said Georgia coach Willy Sagnol. “I don’t want to say deserved or not deserved because this is the story of football. We hoped for a better start but I am proud of my players.

“Arda Güler is a great talent, he will get more experience and score many more. We are learning fast and becoming better as a team.”