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Euro 2024 | Spain quell defiant Georgia to reach quarter-finals

La Roja will meet hosts Germany in the quarter-finals on Friday and sent a message of intent with a polished performance in the drizzling rain including superbly taken goals from Rodri, Fabian Ruiz, Nico Williams and Dani Olmo.
Last Updated : 01 July 2024, 02:45 IST

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Cologne: Three-times champions Spain survived the early scare of an own goal to beat a spirited Georgia 4-1 on Sunday and reach the last eight of Euro 2024, dominating in an exhilarating encounter that brought an end to the minnows' fairytale run.

La Roja will meet hosts Germany in the quarter-finals on Friday and sent a message of intent with a polished performance in the drizzling rain including superbly taken goals from Rodri, Fabian Ruiz, Nico Williams and Dani Olmo.

Spain had gone behind in the 18th minute against the run of play when Georges Mikautadze found Otar Kakabadze, who whipped in an early cross that struck Robin Le Normand and bounced into his own net, sending Georgian fans into a deafening frenzy.

Playing at their maiden Euros, Georgia were riding a wave of euphoria and seeking an unlikely Iberian double after last week's staggering 2-0 win over Portugal sent them into the knockout rounds.

Georgia were spurred on by thousands of travelling supporters, who were wearing white and draped in national flags. The fans clapped, roared and chanted in unison to the beat of pounding drums.

Spain came into the game after three group stage wins having not conceded a goal and coach Luis de la Fuente brought his first choice players back into the team.

Georgia stuck with a side that included the tournament's joint top scorer Georges Mikautadze and its leading shot-stopper Giorgi Mamardashvili in goal.

Spain were mostly cool and confident, barely ruffled by the determination of the Georgians, with youngsters Williams and Lamine Yamal quick, inventive and unrelenting down the flanks.

"Against Germany we have to be at our best," said player of the match Rodri. "We knew it was going to be a tough match. They put us in trouble. We had chances.

"It was a pity about the goal, but we showed character and pride to come back. We knew they were going to be a solid team."

Biggest threat

Spain took control from the start and almost went ahead after five minutes when Dani Carvajal's cross from the right found Pedri, who forced an early save from Mamardashvili.

Williams was the biggest threat in a pulsating game and came close soon after when his goal-bound effort from outside the area was deflected wide of the target.

Mamardashvili was called into action several times, with early saves from Dani Carvajal's glancing header and a shot from the edge of the area by Fabian Ruiz.

Spain were untroubled after going behind and found their leveller in the 39th minute when Williams picked out Rodri, who fired low into the corner.

But Georgia never gave up, with Mikautadze and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia bursting out of their own half in pursuit of a goal that could have made history.

Kvaratskhelia almost found the net when he saw goalkeeper Unai Simon out of position and attempted a brazen long-range effort from inside his own half that flew just wide of the post.

Howwever, Spain went in front six minutes after the break when the magnificent Yamal's curling cross was headed home by Fabian Ruiz to make it 2-1.

Williams killed off any hope of a Georgia comeback when he fired into the roof of the net in the 75th before substitute Dani Olmo completed the rout with seven minutes left.

Georgia's French coach Willy Sagnol said his team now had time to sit back and reflect on the amazing feat they had achieved.

"The squad has been absolutely fantastic. I'm very proud of that," he said. "I'm very proud of what the players have done in the last months. Now it's the end of a journey, but I'm sure the next one will also be very exciting."

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Published 01 July 2024, 02:45 IST

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