KEIR RADNEDGE in DORTMUND: Occasionally, the luck of the draw raises a match which stands alone on its own merit, outside narrow tournament confines. Turkey’s 3-1 defeat of Georgia in Dortmund was one such match.

The all-important, match-turning second Turkish goal was struck, midway through the second half, by 19-year-old Arda Guler, the Real Madrid prodigy. If there had to winners and losers then then his strike was an appropriately magnificent way to open the Turkish gateway to victory.

Turkey were making their first competitive appearance in Germany where so many Gastarbeiters did, and have, and do, and will build their homes and new lives while Georgia were appearing for the first time at a major tournament and doing so amid times of domestic turmoil.

Here the ceremonial banners presented fans with the white crescent and star conflicted with the grand cross of St George; Borussia Dortmund’s Yellow Wall transformed into Turkish red for the evening. Guest interlopers were coaches Vincenzo Montella and Willy Sagnol and Argentinian referee Facundo Tello.

Just awaiting the kickoff as Georgia and Turkey enter the arena

The jeers and whistles which seared the atmosphere when Georgia first took possession of the ball were more passionately intimidating than anything heard previously at these finals.

Turkey brought an immediate attacking ferocity to the duel. Abdulkerim Bardakci headed just wide from a left-wing corner by Arda Guler before Kaan Ayhan thumped a low drive against the right-hand post of keeper Mamardashvili who then stood tall to grab an angled effort from the Galatasaray midfielder.

Georgia refused to mass back. In the 11th minute they might even have taken the lead. Mdfielder Anzor Mekvabishvili shot low and hard and must have thought for goal after as the ball took a deflection off Bardakci only for keeper Mert Gunok to change direction impressively to save for a corner.

Scoring volley

Something had to give at one end or another and, in the 26th minute it did. A left-wing cross from Ferdi Kadioglu was only partially cleared by Georgia and Mert Muldur thrashed an unstoppable volley up past keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili’s left hand.

Turkey thought they had another almost immediately but Kenan Yildiz was denied by VAR on being offside and Georgia capitalised on their escape by equalising.

Giorgi Kochorashvili nipped in from the right and provided a short cross which Georges Mikautadze tickled below keeper Gunok’s left hand at the near post. The 23-year-old from French second division club Metz thus had the honour of claiming Georgia’s first goal on a grand stage.

Not only that but he almost had another two minutes later only for his acrobatic volley to fly just wide of the other upright.

Same again

The second half picked up where the first left off. Yildiz was caught on the wrong foot in front of goal and emrely dollied the ball up for Mamardashvili and Kochorashvili at the other end had shot on the turn blocked after the first slice of magic footwork from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

Back down the other end end and Mamardashvili was almost knocked off his feet parrying a thunderboltof a free kick from Turkish captain Hasan Calhanoglu. He had no chance, however, in the 65th minute when Arda Guler picked up a loose ball in midfield, accelerated at goal and shot magnificently into the top corner.

Guler, at 19, thus became became only the third teenager to score on their Euro debut after Ferenc Bene for Hungary against Spain in 1964 and Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal against Greece in 2004. The magnificence of his strike fully deserved the ovation which greeted his substitution in the 78th minute.

Georgia gave everything in the last minutes with keeper Mamardashvili charging forward. Kvaratskhelia had a free kick deflected against a post and Turkey broke free for Kerem Aktürkoğlu to score their third in the seventh minute of stoppage time. Poor Georgia did not deserve that.

Both teams had been outstanding, a credit to themselves . . . and to their sporting history