Sagnol proud of Georgia display as Guler gifts Montella 'perfect' birthday present

By Sports Desk June 18, 2024

Georgia head coach Willy Sagnol believes his players will learn from their defeat to Turkiye, but was proud of his side's performance in Dortmund.

The 75th-ranked side in the world captured the hearts of many neutrals in their first game at Euro 2024, coming agonisingly close to snatching a memorable point late on.

Georges Mikautadze made history by scoring Georgia's first-ever goal at a major tournament following Mert Muldur's opener, but the minnows were undone by a piece of individual brilliance by Arda Guler before Kerem Akturkoglu sealed a 3-1 win late on. 

"I don't want to say we are happy losers today but I think we can be proud of our performance," Sagnol told reporters.

"We have given such a nice image of the Georgian footballer but of course, we had a lot of opportunities to score, probably as much as Turkey did. But that's football.

"I'm sure in the future, in the next months and years, Georgia won't lose this kind of game. We are in a learning process, but we want to learn in a good way."

For Turkiye, however, they won their opening game of a European Championship finals for the first time, having lost each of their previous five. 

And a big contributor to that was Real Madrid's Guler, whose stunning strike showcased his mercurial talent, and was something he revealed he had practised in the lead-up to the game.

"I am just thrilled, no words to describe how I feel. I was dreaming of this goal constantly," Guler said.

"I've been practising this particular shot recently at the end of training sessions. I'm so happy to have scored this way."

Turkiye head coach Vincenzo Montella celebrated the triumph on his 50th birthday, and Guler was able to deliver the boss his only wish.

"My coach had wanted a goal as a birthday present," Guler told reporters. "I hope I can continue these goals."

Montella was equally pleased with the way his birthday had panned out, labelling the result as the perfect day as preparations turn to their game against Portugal on Saturday, who beat Czechia late on in the other Group F contest. 

"We are just thrilled," Montella said. "It was a lot of coincidences coming together today, my 50th birthday, Eid at home, the Euro opener."

He told reporters: "It really was the perfect day, in terms of the spirit and in terms of the best present I could get."

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