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Turkey Strikes Late to Beat Czechia and Advance as Group Runners-Up in Euro 2024

In a thrilling Group F encounter at the Euro 2024, Turkey secured a dramatic 2-1 victory over Czechia, ensuring their progression to the last 16 as group runners-up. The match, held on a hot Wednesday night, saw Turkey overcome a determined Czech side, despite the latter being reduced to 10 men early in the game.

Turkey’s goals came from Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Cenk Tosun, while Czechia, despite their numerical disadvantage, managed to level the score temporarily through Tomáš Souček. The game’s tension was palpable from the start, with both teams pressing hard in a raucous atmosphere fueled by passionate Turkish fans, significantly outnumbering their Czech counterparts thanks to the large Turkish diaspora in Germany.

The match took a decisive turn in the 20th minute when Czech midfielder Antonín Barák received a harsh second yellow card, leaving his team to battle with ten men for the majority of the game. Despite the setback, Czechia remained resilient and organized, frustrating the Turkish attacks.

The breakthrough for Turkey came in the 50th minute when 30-year-old playmaker Hakan Çalhanoğlu, participating in his third Euros, finally netted his first tournament goal. Çalhanoğlu’s low shot across goalkeeper Jindřich Staněk, who was injured shortly before the goal and had to be substituted, set off wild celebrations among the Turkish fans, who ignited flares and cheered deliriously.

Turkey missed a golden opportunity to double their lead when teenager Arda Güler inexplicably missed a close-range chance. Czechia capitalized on this let-off and equalized in the 66th minute, with Tomáš Souček prodding home following a chaotic scramble from a long throw-in.

As the match neared its conclusion, the intensity only increased. Cenk Tosun emerged as the hero for Turkey, scoring the decisive goal in stoppage time, which sent the Turkish bench and fans into frenzied celebrations. The result exorcised the ghosts of Euro 2020 for Turkey, where they had exited the tournament early after a series of heavy defeats.

The match was also notable for its disciplinary issues, with the referee issuing a record 18 cards – two red and 16 yellow. Hakan Çalhanoğlu was among those booked, meaning he will miss Turkey’s first knockout game. In a chaotic conclusion, Czechia’s Tomáš Chorý was sent off following a melee at the final whistle.

With this victory, Turkey finished second in Group F, level on points with group leaders Portugal but behind on goal difference. They will face Austria in the last 16 on July 2 in Leipzig. Czechia, who needed a win to have any chance of advancing, were sent home, their efforts undermined by the early red card and subsequent defensive strain.

Portugal, who had already secured the top spot in the group, surprisingly lost to Georgia. However, Georgia advanced as one of the best third-placed finishers, adding another layer of unpredictability to the tournament.

Turkey’s hard-fought victory over Czechia has not only propelled them into the knockout stages but also revitalized their campaign with newfound confidence. As they prepare to face Austria, the Turkish team will hope to build on this momentum and continue their journey in Euro 2024.

Georgia Stun Portugal to Progress in Euro 2024: The Biggest Upset in European Championship History

In a stunning turn of events at Euro 2024, debutants Georgia secured a historic 2-0 victory over Portugal, booking their place in the last 16 and marking the greatest upset by FIFA rankings in the history of the European Championship. The win was a monumental achievement for Georgia, ranked 74th in the world, against a Portugal side ranked sixth and featuring the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo.

The match in Gelsenkirchen saw Georgia take an early lead in just the second minute, courtesy of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. The Napoli winger capitalized on a careless pass by Portugal’s António Silva, racing away and firing a low shot past goalkeeper Diogo Costa. The early goal set the tone for what would become a fiercely contested match.

Despite already having qualified for the next round, Portugal fielded a team that included Ronaldo, who was striving to become the oldest goal scorer in Euro history at 39. However, Georgia’s resolute defense and strategic counter-attacks kept Portugal at bay throughout the game.

The pivotal moment came in the 53rd minute when António Silva, already culpable for the error leading to Georgia’s first goal, committed a foul in the penalty box. Following a VAR review, a penalty was awarded, and Georges Mikautadze stepped up to convert it. The forward, who had provided the assist for Kvaratskhelia’s opening goal, calmly slotted the ball past Costa, securing his status as the tournament’s top scorer with three goals.

Cristiano Ronaldo, visibly frustrated, received a booking in the first half for dissent and was substituted in the second half, ending his streak of scoring in the group stages of major international tournaments.

Georgia’s path to this historic victory was far from straightforward. Finishing fourth in their Euro qualifying group, they had to navigate a challenging route to Germany, including winning their group in the UEFA Nations League and defeating Greece in a playoff. Under the guidance of coach Willy Sagnol, the former Bayern Munich and France defender, Georgia defied expectations and earned their place in the knockout stages.

Their win over Portugal not only ensured their progression but also set up a tantalizing last-16 clash with three-time Euro winners Spain. The victory is celebrated as the greatest result for Georgia since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The outcome of this match reshaped the round of 16 fixtures. England will now face Slovakia, Romania will take on the Netherlands, and Portugal will play Slovenia. Hungary, who had been vying for a spot in the next round, were ultimately edged out. In the other Group F match, Turkey secured their place in the last 16 with a 2-1 win over a 10-man Czechia, who are now eliminated from the tournament.

As the final whistle blew, Georgia’s players and coaching staff erupted in celebration, joining their jubilant fans in the stands. Goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili’s crucial late saves ensured the clean sheet and sealed the victory, adding to the night’s heroics.

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