Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Spain 4-1 Georgia: La Roja complete emphatic comeback to set up Germany meeting

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Jun 2024

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Spain avoided an early Euro 2024 scare against Georgia to make it into the quarter-finals with a 4-1 comeback victory in Cologne.

Rodri cancelled out Robin Le Normand’s 18th-minute own goal before the break on Sunday, and a spirited Spain rallied in the second half to leave Georgia powerless.

Fabian Ruiz fired Spain into the lead shortly after the break, with Nico Williams and Dani Olmo making sure of the victory late on to end Georgia’s fairytale run at this European Championship.

Luis de la Fuente’s side will next face the hosts Germany in a marquee quarter-final meeting in Stuttgart on Friday.

Giorgi Mamardashvili was the most worked goalkeeper in the group stages, and he was called into early action against Spain, making two early saves to deny Pedri and Dani Carvajal.

La Roja were stunned shortly after as they conceded for the first time in the tournament – Le Normand was unfortunate to turn Otar Kakabadze’s whipped cross into the back of his own net.

Mamardashvili remained alert when Spain upped the pressure again, getting down sharply to keep out Marc Cucurella’s low strike before pushing away Williams’ curler.

The Georgia goalkeeper was left helpless moments later though, when an unmarked Rodri picked out the bottom-right corner from the edge of the box for his first major tournament goal.

Spain survived an early warning after the break as Khvicha Kvaratskhelia audaciously tried to catch out Unai Simon from the halfway line, but his hopeful effort bounced narrowly wide.

Fabian flipped the script shortly after, peeling off the back of Georgia’s backline to thump a header past Mamardashvili from point-blank range following Lamine Yamal’s sumptuous delivery.

Yamal, desperate to get on the scoresheet himself, almost capitalised on a mistake by Georgia’s defence but dragged another attempt narrowly wide of Mamardashvili’s goal.

Giorgi Gvelesiani’s blushes were spared by a tight offside call as he turned another dangerous Yamal cross into his own net, though Spain would soon extend their lead.

Williams raced forward on the counter down the left flank, leaving his marker in his tracks before rifling his right-footed rocket into the roof of the net 15 minutes from time.

Olmo added some more gloss to the scoreline in the 83rd minute, latching onto Mikel Oyarzabal’s throughball to nestle his shot into the bottom corner and send Spain coasting into the last eight.

The kids are alright

It may have been a couple of the older players in Spain’s squad that got the all-important goals in Cologne, but La Roja’s youngsters continued to shine.

Yamal became the first teenager since Cristiano Ronaldo at Euro 2004 to assist multiple goals (two) at a single edition of the competition, while only Fabian managed as many shots as the winger’s seven.

Meanwhile, Pedri made his fourth start in the knockout stages of the Euros, the most of any player aged 21 or under in the competition’s history.

It is the second time Williams has both scored and assisted in a game for Spain, with the other also coming against Georgia in September 2023.

With Williams also getting his first assist in the tournament, it looks like the youngsters are on course to keep leading the team forward as they prepare to meet the hosts in Stuttgart.

Georgia’s fairytale cut short

After pulling off a stunning victory over Euro 2016 winners Portugal in their final Group F game, Georgia came into the last 16 with another upset in mind.

It looked like that could be possible too, as they took another early lead, all despite not having a shot in the game up to that point.

Mamardashvili had saved 21 of the 22 shots on target he had faced prior to Rodri’s goal, but he was helpless as Spain upped the pressure on Sunday.

William Sagnol’s team go out with their heads held high despite their exit, after a debut tournament to remember.

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