Euro 2024: Georgia hold Czech Republic in a physical battle | Football News - Hindustan Times

Euro 2024: Georgia hold Czech Republic in a physical battle

Jun 22, 2024 11:25 PM IST

The tournament’s lowest ranked team miss a last gasp chance to win it, but impress in the 1-1 draw in Group F

It came down to the final move of the match for the clearest chance in open play to be created. Georgia caught Czech Republic on the counter and had three players running down on one defender. After chasing the ball for the most part in what had been an extremely physical encounter, it seemed tournament debutants Georgia would steal the most unlikely of victories. But it wasn’t to be as Saba Lobjanidze sent the ball sailing over the bar with the last kick of the match.

Czech Republic's Ladislav Krejci in action with Georgia's Otar Kakabadze(REUTERS)
Czech Republic's Ladislav Krejci in action with Georgia's Otar Kakabadze(REUTERS)

As many as nine yellow cards were shown as both teams fought tooth and nail to find the winner. While Czech Republic were edged out by Portugal 2-1 in their opener, Georgia, the lowest ranked team in Euro 2024, were beaten 3-1 by Turkey. A win for either team would have gone a long way in securing a Round of 16 berth. But it ended 1-1 in Hamburg, with the Czechs being wasteful in front of goal and Georgia earning their first-ever point at a major competition.

For the first half an hour, it felt like an attack-versus-defence drill from a training session. Czech Republic had seven shots on target during that period, the most in the first half of a Euro game since 2016. They forced two fantastic saves from Giorgi Mamardashvili in the third minute and kept attacking in waves. It seemed only a matter of time before they would score, but the finishing touch kept eluding them.

It was Georgia who broke the deadlock. After being resilient in defence, they built some momentum with disciplined passing and were rewarded in first half added time. The ball touched Robin Hranac’s flailing arm inside the box and Georges Mikautadze converted the penalty.

The Czechs, however, began the second half with confidence and found the equaliser in the 59th minute. Ondeej Lingr flicked the ball on from a corner and it rebounded off Patrik Schick’s chest at the far post and went in. The Bayer Leverkusen striker hadn’t been clinical until then but was at the right place at the right time. No other player has scored as many goals (six) in the tournament as the 28-year-old since the start of Euro 2020.

After jostling for over an hour, both teams seemed bereft of ideas in the final stages though the Czechs continued to dominate possession. They forced a couple of more saves from Mamardashvili – he won the Player-of-the-Match award -- but struggled to create space inside the box.

Georgia had just one shot on target compared to Czech Republic’s 12, but it turned out to be a memorable game for them despite Lobjanidze’s miss right at the end.

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