Turkey 3-1 Georgia: Stunning Arda Guler strike in thrilling Group F opener at Euro 2024

Turkish delight: Arda Guler ensured his country made a winning start (AFP via Getty Images)
Turkish delight: Arda Guler ensured his country made a winning start (AFP via Getty Images)

Arda Guler’s sensational second-half strike sent Turkey on their way to a 3-1 win over Georgia in a hugely-entertaining opening clash in Group F at Euro 2024.

The Real Madrid striker’s goal looked like being the difference, until Georgia piled forward in search of a stoppage-time equaliser and, with the goalkeeper up, Kerem Akturkoglu rolled the ball into an empty net with the final kick.

These two sides have had to wait over the first few days of the tournament to get their chance to feature, and there was a danger that wait could be extended ahead of kick-off, as torrential rain fell in Dortmund and created waterfalls from the roof at Signal Iduna Park. There were also clashes between Turkish and Georgian fans inside the stadium, as riot police intervened.

The rain did ease though and allowed a match of thrilling pace to be played, with Kaan Ayhan smacking an early effort against the post. Turkey did get their deserved first-half lead, when Mert Muldur, up from right-back, volleyed a stunning effort into the top corner.

Almost immediately it appeared to be 2-0, as Kenan Yildiz tapped home at the back post after a swift counter, but the Turkish fans, who created an incredible atmosphere in Dortmund, were briefly silenced as VAR ruled it out for offside.

That proved a turning point in the half, with Georgia, making their debut at a major tournament, levelling it up before the break. Giorgi Kochorashvili drifted into the box, fired a low ball into the middle and Georges Mikautadze squeezed a first-time finish in at the near post.

It left the match firmly in the balance heading into half-time, and it remained that way until Real Madrid’s Guler took centre stage midway through the second period. He picked the ball up 25 yards out and whipped a wonderful effort into the top corner, leaving the stadium bouncing.

Georgia pushed for a second equaliser, Kochorashvili very nearly providing it as he worked space in the box only to be denied by the bar, before he and Mikautadze got in each other’s way to waste a huge chance in stoppage-time.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s late free-kick smacked back off the post, before a remarkable block from Samet Akaydin denied Georgia what looked to be a certain equaliser. They threw everything at it, their race only run when Akturkoglu broke away and had the final say.

It is a successful start to Turkey’s Euro 2024 campaign, three years on from losing all three group-stage matches to fall to a tame early exit. They now face their toughest Group F test, against Portugal, while Georgia will take on the Czech Republic.