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Spain rally to beat Georgia, face host Germany in QF

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Cologne, July 1: Spain recovered from conceding an early own-goal to beat Georgia 4-1 for a spot in the Euro 2024 quarterfinals, ending one of the tournament’s most compelling underdog stories.
Goals from midfielders Rodri and Fabián Ruiz brought Spain back into the game after Robin Le Normand’s own-goal in the 18th minute had given Georgia a shock lead. Nico Williams and Dani OImo took the game out of Georgia’s reach with two more goals late in the game as heavy rain fell.
Spain will play host nation Germany in the quarterfinals on Friday in Stuttgart.
The loss ends Georgia’s first ever major tournament campaign.
Despite the lopsided score, Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili had another standout game with nine saves to prevent a rout.
Spain had beaten Georgia 7-1 in qualifying last year, but this game was a close contest until the last 20 minutes and testament to Georgia’s rapid improvement under coach Willy Sagnol.
Playing its fourth game of Euro 2024, Spain had yet to concede a goal all tournament.
That soon changed when Otar Kakabadze surged down the right flank for Georgia and crossed low. Le Normand chested the ball past his own goalkeeper, with the defender apparently distracted by Khvicha Kvaratskhelia arriving behind him to meet the cross.
Spain took its time to get back into the game, but Rodri – back from a one-game suspension – levelled the score in the 39th with a low shot from just outside the box.
Georgia remained a threat on the counter, including with an audacious shot from the halfway line by Kvaratskhelia, but Spain midfielder Ruiz made it 2-1 in the 51st when he rose unmarked to meet a cross from the 16-year-old Lamine Yamal.
Needing a goal, Georgia had to open up its compact defensive formation and conceded twice more as Williams scored in the 75th and substitute Olmo eight minutes later.
After the final whistle, Georgia’s players gathered in front of their fans for a slow-clap chant reminiscent of another European Championship underdog – Iceland – when it beat England in 2016. (AP)

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