Georgia celebrates historic first European Championship point, regrets important miss

Georgian winger Saba Lobjanidze shot over the goal in the closing stages (GABRIEL BOUYS)

Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili praised his team's “historic” first point after a thrilling 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic at Euro 2024 on Saturday.

Georges Mikautadze scored for the European Championship debutants from the penalty spot in the first half in Hamburg, but Patrik Schick equalised for the Czechs after the break.

Valencia goalkeeper Mamardashvili put in a brilliant performance, saving eleven shots and earning the player of the match award.

After an opening loss to Turkey, the draw means Georgia will likely have to beat one of the tournament favourites, Portugal, in their third game to advance from Group F.

“I'm quite happy and satisfied just to be here… our first point is a historic moment,” Mamardashvili told reporters.

“We have a very difficult game against Portugal. They are one of the best teams in the tournament, but we will do our best and then we will see what happens.”

Georgia could have won the game against the run of play in the last minute, but substitute Saba Lobjanidze hammered the ball over the bar after being sent towards goal.

The Atalanta United winger's teammates and Georgia coach Willy Sagnol went to him at the end to try to cheer him up.

“You can say a lot of things, I don’t know if the player wants to hear all of that,” said former Bayern Munich defender Sagnol.

“In the three and a half years that I have coached Georgia, we have achieved a lot of very positive things on the pitch, but it is also a tremendous and very important human experience for me.

“That's why I went to the player because I could imagine how he felt. It's difficult to say anything. I told him: If you never try, you'll never miss.”

Sagnol said his team had mixed feelings after the final whistle, having picked up their first point but then letting two more slip through their fingers.

“In the first few minutes the players were disappointed because of this huge opportunity, but they got their first point in a major tournament,” he said.

“I don't know if the point is deserved, but for everything we have achieved together, I think it is deserved.”

Czech coach Ivan Hasek said it was a scary moment for his team, which had dominated the game.

“In the last seconds it was three against one, we were really scared, but we got over it and have to keep going,” said the coach.

“We don't want to go home yet, we will fight until the end against Turkey to get into the knockout round.”

Czech goalscorer Schick limped off in the second half with a calf problem and Hasek said further tests would be needed, although he was not sure whether the Bayer Leverkusen striker would be ready for Wednesday's final group game.

“Patrik Schick will undergo further tests in the hospital and then we will see,” explained the coach.

“At the moment, people are not very optimistic about Schick's injury, but that's the way it is.”


Anna Harden

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