Euro 2024 round-up: Portugal ease past Turkiye

PORTUGAL arrived for the Euro 2024 as one of the hot favourites given their strong form in the qualifying campaign.

Part of the reason why this Portugal team is being tipped to go all the way is that focus is no longer permeantly trained on the 41-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo. Instead, the burden seems more evenly spread across a highly talented team featuring the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Bernando Silva.

Georgia and the Czech Republic take matters into the last game with a hard-fought draw while the highly fancied Belgians finally come alive.

Georgia 1 v Czech Republic 1

There is always a sense of wonder as to how some smaller nations can produce such highly talented football teams. Think Uruguay and the Scandinavian countries, who are constant fixtures at major tournaments.

Joining that list is Georgia whose population of just 3 million inhabitants has surprised football fans everywhere by qualifying for its first European championships. And the Georgians are not here just to make up the numbers as the frantic and highly entertaining opening draw against Turkiye underlined. That frenetic tempo was maintained against Czech Republic with the Georgians committed to speedy counter-attacking football.

This was yet another highly entertaining affair, with the opening goal for Georgia scored by Georges Mikautadze from the penalty spot while Patrik Schik equalised for the Czech Republic. Both survive and keep their hopes of advancing to the next round alive, which for minnows Georgia is an accomplishment in itself.

Portugal 3 v Turkiye 0

Aside from the host nation, no other team can boast the same in-stadium support as Turkiye. Given the geographical proximity and the huge Turkish population in Germany, the team has played in venues that resemble a “home” game in Istanbul.

But the vociferous support was not enough to stem a Portugal side that was clinical and decisive, with Manchester City playmaker Silva pulling the strings. His opener set his side on the way before a disastrous mix-up in the Turkiye defence led to a farcical own goal setting up Portugal for a comfortable win.

Could CR7 skipper his nation to a second Euro trophy? Based on this performance, the answer is ‘yes’.

Belgium 2 v Romania 0

The Belgians had to bring their ‘A’ game after the shock defeat to Slovakia in the group opener. The tone of the match was set very early on as Youri Tielemanns opened the scoring in the second minute.

Romania who were so impressive against Ukraine in their opening game was put under relentless pressure for much of the game and only wayward finishing and VAR helped keep the score down.

The latter chalked off a goal from Romelo Lukaku for offside, making it three times already that the burly forward has been denied by VAR at this tournament thus far. Euro 2024 is perhaps the last chance for this “golden generation” of Belgian players to lift a major trophy, with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne already 33 years old.

It was the skipper who secured maximum points with a well-taken goal in the 79th minute. Qualification for the knockout stage goes to the wire with three teams in the group tied at four points. – June 23, 2024


Main photo credit: The Guardian

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