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Georgia advances to Euro 2024 playoffs final with 2-0 win over Luxembourg helped by video review

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgia is one win away from its tournament debut at the European Championship after beating Luxembourg 2-0 in a qualifying playoffs semifinal Thursday that swung on a dramatic VAR review.

Georgia’s star forward Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, the Napoli winger who was suspended Thursday, can return to face either Greece or Kazakhstan on Tuesday when a place at Euro 2024 in Germany is at stake.

Luxembourg had never been closer to a major tournament and was left to rue a video review by the match officials.

Trailing 1-0 in the 53rd minute, Luxembourg looked to have leveled with a goal from its record scorer Gerson Rodrigues.

Two minutes later, before the game restarted, Spanish referee José María Sánchez was called to the pitchside monitor to look again at an incident on the edge of the Luxembourg penalty area 45 seconds before Rodrigues struck.

The referee judged veteran Luxembourg defender Maxime Chanot had tripped Georges Mikautadze, who stumbled into the penalty area as he ran clear on goal.

Luxembourg’s goal was ruled out, Chanot was shown a red card and Georgia was awarded a free kick but not a penalty. Fully five minutes after the Rodrigues shot, play resumed with Levan Shengelia curling a free kick against the top of the Luxembourg bar.

The match was soon settled in the 63rd when Shengelia’s pass across the goalmouth found Budu Zivzivadze to score his second goal of the game from close range.

Zivzivadze had put Georgia ahead in the 40th when a misdirected defensive header at a corner fell at his feet to score with a rising shot from five meters (yards). The forward with German second-tier club Karlsruher also struck a post with a shot in the 13th.

Greece, the Euro 2004 champion, and Kazakhstan were kicking off in Athens one hour after the final whistle in Tbilisi.

In other playoff brackets Thursday, Poland was hosting Estonia with the winner traveling to meet either Wales or Finland on Tuesday.

Israel is playing Iceland — in neutral Budapest, Hungary — for the right to meet either Bosnia-Herzegovina or Ukraine in five days’ time.

The 24-team Euro 2024 tournament is being played in 10 German cities from June 14 to July 14.


AP soccer: https://ift.tt/aBF5TCq

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