Georgia secured a historic place in the knockout stages of Euro 2024 after a stunning 2-0 win over Portugal on Wednesday, while Turkey, Belgium, Romania and Slovakia all advanced to the last 16 as the group stage came to an end.

Belgium through, Ukraine out

Belgium qualified for the last 16 of Euro 2024 on Wednesday after a 0-0 draw with Ukraine, who exited the tournament despite all four teams in Group E finishing level on four points.

Romania took top spot ahead of Belgium after scoring more goals in the group following their 1-1 draw with Slovakia, who also go through as one of the four best third-placed sides.

Belgium supporters reacted furiously at the final whistle in Stuttgart, with captain Kevin De Bruyne appearing to tell his team-mates not to go over to applaud them as the whistles and jeers grew louder.

“We are a little bit surprised,” said Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco.

“If the fans are whistling we have to accept. We can’t be disappointed. We are qualified which is the most important thing today.”

They will play France in the next round and have landed themselves on the tougher side of the draw which also features hosts Germany, Spain and Portugal.

“We won't be favourites against France but we know during a tournament you have to play the best,” said De Bruyne.

War-torn Ukraine’s brave run came to an agonising end as they became the first team since the tournament increased to 24 teams not to progress with four points.


Romania and Slovakia through to last 16

Romania and Slovakia both qualified for the last 16 after a tense 1-1 draw in their last Group E game.

Ondrej Duda put Slovakia ahead in the first half but Romania’s Razvan Marin equalised with a penalty before the interval.

With all four teams in the group earning four points from their three games, Romania finished top having scored more goals than second-placed Belgium.

Slovakia went through in third place thanks to a superior goal difference to fourth-placed Ukraine.

It was a memorable moment for Romania, who are into the knockout stages of the Euros for the first time in 24 years.

Romania had only qualified once for the last 16 in their five Euro appearances, but Edward Iordanescu’s tenacious side have ended that long drought.

“It’s incredible, I want to congratulate my players, we found a spirit,” Iordanescu said. “We came back once again, we never give up. These are things you experience once in a lifetime. We have written history.”

Slovakia are into the knockout stages of a major tournament for the third time.

They reached the last 16 in the 2010 World Cup and made it to the same stage at Euro 2016.

“It was a great performance,” Slovakia boss Francesco Calzona said. “It means a lot. We were 55th in the Fifa rankings when I started, so to get here makes me very proud. We have world-class opponents ahead but it will be a celebration for us.”


Georgia stun second-string Portugal

Georgia are through to the last 16 of Euro 2024 after Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Portugal, a historic triumph in the former Soviet Republic’s first appearance at a major international tournament.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s fine finish with less than two minutes on the clock in Gelsenkirchen and Georges Mikautadze’s 57th-minute penalty ensured Georgia would claim the greatest football victory in the Black Sea nation’s history.

Georgia’s players celebrated with their delirious fans long after the final whistle, after inflicting a first defeat since the 2022 World Cup on Portugal, and being rewarded for the sheer fun they have brought to the tournament.

Willy Sagnol’s team qualify from Group F as one of the four best third-placed finishers and face a daunting clash with Spain, who won all their group games, on Sunday.

“We just made history, nobody would have believed that we would have made it happen by beating Portugal, but this is why we are a strong team,” Kvaratskhelia told reporters.

“If there is even one percent chance you can make it happen if you believe.”

Portugal had already qualified for the next round as group winners and coach Roberto Martinez made eight changes from the team which swept Turkey aside to guarantee first place last weekend.


Turkey beat Czech Republic

Turkey reached the knockout phase at a major tournament for the first time in 16 years after a bad-tempered 2-1 win over a battling 10-man Czech Republic.

Vincenzo Montella’s Turkey finished second in Group F behind Portugal to progress, as the Czechs were eliminated despite a brave performance on a sweltering night in Hamburg.

Turkey will face Austria in the last 16 in Leipzig on Tuesday, their first major tournament knockout match since the Euro 2008 semi-finals, when they were beaten by Germany.

The Czechs were reduced to 10 men in the 20th minute when Antonin Barak was given the earliest red card in Euros history, beating the unwanted record set by France’s Eric Abidal in 2008.

Barak’s pair of bookings were two of 18 yellow cards shown in total, with Tomas Chory also shown red after the final whistle in ugly scenes.

Hakan Calhanoglu powered Turkey into a 51st-minute lead, but Tomas Soucek lashed in an equaliser midway through the second half.

A frantic finale to the game ensued as the Czech Republic pushed for the winner that would take them through, but Cenk Tosun ended their hopes on the counter-attack in added time.

There were ugly scenes at the final whistle as fans ran onto the pitch, with Czech forward Chory brandished a red card in the aftermath.


Text from AFP