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Guler stunner helps Turkey to 3-1 win over Georgia

DORTMUND — A stunning long-range strike from teenager Arda Guler helped lift Turkey to a 3-1 win in their Euro 2024 Group F opener against debutants Georgia, as they slugged it out in the pouring rain at a raucous Dortmund BVB Stadion on Tuesday.

Guler became the youngest player to score on his debut at a Euros aged 19 years and 114 days – beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s record – in between goals for Turkey from Mert Muldur and Kerem Akturkoglu, with Georges Mikautadze replying for Georgia.

Arguably the best game of the tournament so far had everything from great goals to shots flying off the woodwork to late drama in an intense atmosphere created by the deafening Turkish fans, thanks to Germany’s large Turkish population.

Turkey had more possession but were often exposed in defence and had to dig deep as Georgia gave as good as they got, threatening an equaliser with a flurry of attacks deep in added time that left Turkish fans desperate for the final whistle.

After Giorgi Kochorashvili struck the woodwork with a close-range effort, Georgia missed a sitter when Kochorashvili and teammate Georges Mikautadze ran at each other while trying to strike a cross from close range.

Six minutes into added time, substitute Zuriko Davitashvili’s header hit the post followed by a goal-saving block from Samet Akaydin to deny Budu Zivzivadze from the rebound.

Turkey had more possession early on and, after Kaan Ayhan hit the post with a long-range strike, Muldur gave Turkey a deserved lead in the 25th minute, smashing a swerving volley past goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili from the edge of the box.

Kenan Yildiz thought he had scored Turkey’s second a little over a minute later in a quick counter attack, but his goal was ruled out for offside.

Georgia, playing in their first major tournament, equalised in the 32nd when Mikautadze turned Kochorashvili’s cross past Mert Gunok, who should have done better covering his near post.

Turkey looked livelier in the second half and controlled the action again, cornering Georgia with their relentless high pressure while still leaving themselves open to counters on both wings.

It was not until 19-year-old Guler, coming into the tournament fresh from a run of goals for Real Madrid, scored in the 65th minute that Turkey were able to turn their dominance into a second goal.

Man of the match Guler struck an unstoppable curling shot into the top corner beyond the reach of keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili, showing why he has Real Madrid fans so excited about his potential.

“I am just thrilled, no words to describe how I feel. I was dreaming of this goal constantly,” Guler told Turkish TV.

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

Georgia pressed for a late equaliser but, with Mamardashvili coming all the way upfield for a series of corners, Akturkoglu broke away, dashed down the other end and passed the ball into an empty net to make it 3-1 in added time.

Turkey next play Portugal on Saturday after Georgia take on Czech Republic. — Reuters