Georgia celebrate historic first Euros point, rue key miss

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Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili hailed his team's "historic" first ever point after a thrilling 1-1 draw against the Czech Republic at Euro 2024 on Saturday.

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Georges Mikautadze struck from the penalty spot for the Euros debutants in the first half in Hamburg but Patrik Schick levelled for the Czechs after the break. Valencia stopper Mamardashvili made 11 saves in a brilliant display and was named player of the match. After an opening defeat by Turkey, the draw means Georgia will likely have to beat one of the tournament favourites Portugal in their third match to progress from Group F.
"I am quite happy and satisfied just for being here... our first point is a historic moment," Mamardashvili told reporters. "We will have a very difficult match against Portugal, they are one of the best teams at the tournament but we will do our best, and we will see (what happens)." Georgia might even have won the game at the death against the run of play, but after being sent in on goal, substitute Saba Lobjanidze hammered over the bar.
The Atalanta United winger's team-mates and Georgia coach Willy Sagnol went to him at the end to try and raise his spirits. "You can say a lot of things, I don't know if the player wants to hear all those things," said former Bayern Munich defender Sagnol. "In the three-and-a-half years I've been coaching Georgia, we've done a lot of very positive things on the pitch, but it's also a massive and very important human experience for me.
"That's why I went to the player, because I could imagine how he was feeling - it's difficult to say anything, I told him the ones who never try will never miss." Sagnol said his squad had mixed feelings at full-time after claiming their first point but seeing two more slip between their fingers. "For the first minutes the players were disappointed because of this massive opportunity, but they got their first ever point in a major tournament," he said.
"I don't know if the point is deserved, but for everything we've done together, I think it's deserved." Czech coach Ivan Hasek said it was a scary moment for his side, who had dominated the game. "In the last seconds it was three-on-one, we were really scared, and we survived it and we have to go on," said the coach.
"We don't want to go home yet, we will fight until the very end against Turkey so we can get into the knock-out rounds. Czech goalscorer Schick limped off with an apparent calf problem in the second half and Hasek said further tests were needed, although he was not positive the Bayer Leverkusen striker would be ready for the final group match on Wednesday.
"Patrik Schick will have other examinations in the hospital and we will see," explained the coach. "At the moment it's not very optimistic regarding Schick's injury but that's how it is."

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