We didn’t underestimate Georgia, says Portugal coach Martinez

Portugal now know their last-16 opponents will be Slovenia.

Portugal coach Roberto Martinez insisted his side had not underestimated Georgia but admitted they were deservedly beaten as they went down 2-0 in their final Euro 2024 group game on Wednesday.

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Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s early goal and a second-half penalty by Georges Mikautadze gave Georgia a stunning victory in Gelsenkirchen that saw them qualify for the last 16 in their first ever appearance at the competition.

However, Portugal had already qualified for the next round as Group F winners and Martinez made eight changes to his starting line-up as a result.

“We didn’t underestimate Goergia but it is true that they were playing the biggest game in their history,” Martinez said after Portugal suffered their first competitive defeat since the 2022 World Cup.

“We were playing the last game when we were already top of our group and it was difficult for us to match their intensity.”

He added: “We conceded an early goal which is what Georgia wanted and needed.

“Then after that we didn’t have the clarity, or a good enough final ball, to get in on goal, and their goalkeeper played very well.

“We couldn’t get a goal which gave Georgia extra strength and belief, and they deserved the victory.”

Only captain Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Palhinha and goalkeeper Diogo Costa kept their places in Portugal’s team following the 3-0 win over Turkey which had clinched their last-16 spot with a game to spare.

Martinez also substituted Ronaldo midway through the second half, and he admitted he made so many changes with an eye on their upcoming last-16 tie, on Monday in Frankfurt.

“The objective was to have the players prepared as best as possible for the last 16.

“Without doubt that contributed to the final result, but we kept trying to get a goal back,” he said, while complaining that Georgia’s penalty was soft and his team should have had one of their own.

“At times I think we didn’t have luck. The VAR was very inconsistent because in the 27th minute there was an even more clear penalty on Cristiano Ronaldo than the one given against Antonio Silva.

“The players individually showed what they can do, but for Georgia it was a historic game and we didn’t match the levels of intensity required.”

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Portugal now know their last-16 opponents will be Slovenia, to whom they lost 2-0 in a friendly in March.

Martinez said there was no prospect his side would take them lightly.

“I think the important thing is to remember there are no easy games,” he said.

“This is not a friendly. We need to better prepared from a psychological point of view.”

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