Georgia qualify for Euro 2024 after penalty shootout win over Greece

football26 March 2024 19:55| © Reuters
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Georgia qualified for Euro 2024 thanks to a 4-2 shootout win over Greece after a tense playoff final ended 0-0 following extra time on Tuesday as they made history by reaching their first major tournament.

Georgia substitute Nika Kvekveskiri converted his spot kick after Greece's Giorgos Giakoumakis put his penalty wide to send the home crowd wild as their side edged through to the finals.

Georgia will be in Group F alongside Portugal, Turkey and Czech Republic at the Euros in Germany which begin on June 14.

Giorgi Mamardashvili saved Greece's first effort from Anastasios Bakasetas after the hosts had taken the lead in the shootout but when Georgia's Georges Mikautadze missed his spot kick the Greeks had renewed hope.

However, Giakoumakis sent Greece's fourth penalty past the post to leave Georgia's Kvekveskiri as the hero when he kept his cool and squeezed his right-foot kick into the net.

"Some did not believe in us but now they will believe it. We are happy. I have never had such an emotion in my life," Georgia talisman Khvicha Kvaratskhelia told 1TV Sport.

The home crowd enjoyed watched Georgia beat Luxembourg 2-0 in the playoff semifinal last Thursday but were made to suffer through Tuesday's shootout before celebrating as never before.

Manager Willy Sagnol made one change from the Luxembourg win, with key forward Kvaratskhelia returning from suspension, while Greece's Gus Poyet named the same side after the 5-0 thrashing of Kazakhstan in their semifinal.


The game was a scrappy, nervy affair, with chances in normal time few and far between. Tempers flared on the stroke of halftime as both benches spilt onto the pitch with Georgia's substitute keeper Giorgi Loria shown a red card.

Fouls on Kvaratskhelia led to three bookings for Greek defenders in the first half but the influential forward went off injured in extra time and could only watch from the sidelines as his teammates triumphed in the shootout.

The game came to life close to the end of the opening period of extra time, with Georgia keeper Mamardashvili getting down to push away a shot from Bakasetas and Greece's Konstantinos Mavropanos hitting the bar with a header.

Georgia then had the chance to snatch a winner when Georges Mikautadze passed to Zuriko Davitashvili at the edge of the six- yard box but his close-range effort was saved by Odysseas Vlachodimos and penalties seemed inevitable.

The optimistic home crowd displayed a banner before the game which read "Breaking news, Georgia make history" and, in the end, they could wave it proudly when Kvekveskiri's decisive penalty hit the back of the net to send their team to Germany.

Georgia lost a playoff for Euro 2020 also in Tbilisi against North Macedonia but this time the delirious home supporters were on the pitch celebrating as their side finally made it to a major finals at the 15th attempt.

"Thanks to the Georgian fans," Kvaratskhelia said. "I've played in many stadiums but I haven't seen such support anywhere. You were the most important factor."

Greece were European champions in 2004 but their last appearance in a major tournament was at the 2014 World Cup. They have now failed to qualify for the last two World Cup tournaments and three European Championships.