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Spain in the quarter-finals after 4-1 win against Georgia

Spain in the quarter-finals after 4-1 win against Georgia
Spain in the quarter-finals after 4-1 win against Georgia

Image: (APA/AFP/ALBERTO PIZZOLI)

Spain has ended Georgia’s run at the European Football Championship and booked a place in the quarter-finals with hosts Germany. The three-time European champions defeated the underdogs 4-1 (1-1) in Cologne on Sunday. The number 74 in the FIFA world rankings took the lead through an own goal by Robin Le Normand (18th minute), Rodri (39th minute) before half-time and Fabian Ruiz (51st minute) shortly afterwards turned the game around for the Iberians. Nico Williams (75th minute) and Dani Olmo (83rd minute) then made everything clear.

Coach Luis de la Fuente’s team will continue on Friday (6 p.m.) in Stuttgart. Germany had already qualified for the quarter-finals on Saturday against Denmark (2-0).

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For the Spaniards, De la Fuente had already conserved his energy in the last group match and, not surprisingly, sent his first team with the two young stars Lamine Yamal (16) and Nico Williams (21) onto the field. Georgia’s head coach Willy Sagnol started with Sturm Graz midfielder Otar Kiteishvili and former WAC professional Luka Lochoshvili on the left in the five-man defense.

Spain extremely powerful

His team had to play catch-up from the start. Spain circulated the ball in their own ranks and looked for a gap in the underdog’s defense. The Georgians barely made it past the halfway line. Their hero Giorgi Mamardashvili, celebrated after the victory over Portugal, had to intervene for the first time after ten minutes to stop a Carvajal header.

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In the midst of the Spanish attacks, the Georgians, who are strong on counterattacks, broke free and scored straight away. Otar Kakabadze moved up on the right and Le Normand, who was under pressure from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, deflected his cross into his own goal with his hip. It was the eighth own goal in this European Championship.

For “La Roja” it was the first goal conceded in the tournament. But the Spaniards continued undeterred where they had started. Mamardashvili, who plays for Valencia, was still the rook in the battle, making saves on shots from Marc Cucurella and Williams before he too was beaten. Spain’s pacesetter Rodri shot centrally from just outside the penalty area and scored with precision.

Kiteishvili substituted due to injury

For Kiteishvili, the evening was over immediately after that, and Wolfsberg’s Sandro Altunashvili took over for the injured midfielder. Spain were keen to score before the half-time whistle, but the Iberians’ ninth corner put an end to the game for the time being.

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It took 21 seconds in the second half for the favorites to have their first shot on goal. The Georgians held off the sly Kvaratskhelia, and the Napoli star almost surprised Spain’s advanced goalkeeper Unai Simon with a shot from the halfway line (48′). Three minutes later, Spain were finally on course. Mamardashvili made a flying save from the free kick, but the Spaniards stayed with it, and Ruiz headed in a Yamal cross completely unmarked.

Dani Olmo replaced the injured Pedri, and the Spanish, who were confident on the ball, hardly allowed anything else to happen. The Georgians looked for their chance with quick counterattacks, before an attack by the Eastern Europeans decided the game. Williams had space and technique on the counterattack, easily outmaneuvered a Georgian defender and shot under the crossbar. Yamal didn’t want to be outdone and took several shots on goal. But Olmo was able to score the fourth Spanish goal in the Cologne rain.

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