'Best day in Georgian lives' as they stun Portugal

In March, the streets of Tbilisi became the centre of an impromptu procession to celebrate an incredible Georgia success as they reached a first major tournament.

Now, they've gone one step better and reached the Euro 2024 knockout stage.

It came through an upset of the highest order, overcoming the odds to stun Portugal 2-0 in their final group-stage game and write a new chapter in their nation's history.

Star man Khvicha Kvaratskhelia had no doubt of the result's magnitude. "This the best day in the lives of Georgians," he said.

The Napoli forward clung to the shirt of Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo in his post-match news conference - the same Ronaldo whose side had been frustrated in defeat, having been undone defensively and misfired in the final third.

Georgia are ranked 68 places below Portugal in Fifa's rankings and completed the greatest upset by that metric. Portugal manager Roberto Martinez conceded their unfancied opponents had shown an "incredible belief" and "deserved the credit".

The euphoric post-match celebrations will live long in the memory as emotional players and supporters sung and danced together.

"Everyone is so happy and we just made history, nobody would believe that we would make it happen and we would defeat Portugal," said Kvaratskhelia.

"We showed that the Georgian team can make it happen."

Georgia only qualified for Euro 2024 through the Nations League, beating Greece on penalties to earn a first tournament spot since declaring independence in 1992.

They have now set up a last-16 tie against heavyweights Spain with an "unbelievable" victory.

"There was a similar experience to this back in March when Georgia qualified for the tournament - but this is bigger," Georgian football journalist Dato Lobjanidze told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Tbilisi is not going to sleep tonight! There will be lots of celebrations in the streets, people are just shouting and screaming and being happy."

Georgia played with a steely determination that limited Portugal to few clear-cut chances and manager Willy Sagnol, the former France and Bayern Munich full-back, said: "When you're the 'small team' in the competition, you know you have nothing to lose."

Former Scotland and Chelsea winger Pat Nevin was full of praise too as he added "your heart glows at how beautiful football can be sometimes".

"What a beautiful moment at full-time," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "They fought, they battled, they were technically superb. You would not want to play them in the next round."

Georgia celebrate after beating Portugal
Georgia are the first Euros debutants to reach the knockouts since Wales and Iceland in 2016 [Getty Images]
Georgia celebrate after beating Portugal
Georgia's defence meant goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili had to make just five saves against Portugal [Getty Images]
Georgia celebrate after beating Portugal
Georgia had just 27.6% possession against Portugal, but kept them at bay [Getty Images]
Georgia celebrate after beating Portugal
Georgia preventing Cristiano Ronaldo scoring meant the legendary striker failed to net in the group stage of a major tournament for the first time in his career [Getty Images]