Birthday boy Vincenzo Montella receives ‘best present’ after Turkey win

Turkey manager Vincenzo Montella toasted the best possible 50th birthday present following a thrilling 3-1 win over Georgia at Euro 2024.

Spectacular strikes from Mert Muldur and Arda Guler, either side of Georges Mikautadze’s equaliser, helped settle an engrossing Group F encounter against the tournament debutants in Dortmund.

Yet Turkey survived a major scare as tenacious Georgia twice struck the woodwork and also wasted a golden chance to level before Kerem Akturkoglu put the result beyond doubt at the death with a breakaway goal.

“It was a match worthy of the finals,” said Italian Montella, whose side were heavily backed on the terraces at Westfalenstadion.

“Our supporters were great, even when it was tough, and this victory is for them as well.

“I’m turning 50 today so this was the best present I could have received.”

Nineteen-year-old Real Madrid forward Guler thumped home a delightful 65th-minute strike from distance to restore Turkey’s advantage after Mikautadze’s milestone goal cancelled out a thunderous volley from right-back Muldur.

Georgia midfielder Giorgi Kochorashvili hit the crossbar and later fired wide in added time before captain Guram Kashia headed against a post during a frantic finish which concluded with substitute Akturkoglu racing away to score.

“We’ve never got beyond the group stage in the last three Euros; we didn’t even pick up a point last time,” said Montella.

“Our first target was to win this match. Now we’ve won it, the dream is to win the next one and reach the knockout stage.”

Georgia coach Willy Sagnol was left to reflect on fine margins as he turns his attention to pivotal meetings with Czech Republic and Portugal.

“It’s never nice when you lose but for my team we can be proud of our performance and putting Georgian football in such a positive light,” he said.

“We had as many chances at they did.”