Olmo last-gasp winner spares Spain's blushes
(Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Dani Olmo spared Spain’s blushes with a 92nd-minute strike to earn his side a 2-1 comeback win over Georgia in Sunday’s World Cup 2022 qualifier in Tbilisi.

Spain were held 1-1 by Greece in their Group B opener on Thursday and were heading for another shock result at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia gave Georgia the lead just before the interval, but Ferran Torres equalised 11 minutes into the second period and half-time substitute Olmo scored a long-range goal in added time.

Georgia ended the game with 10 men after Levan Shengelia was sent off for a challenge on Pedri as Spain avoided an embarrassing result on their travels.

Torres forced Giorgi Loria into a good save after 11 minutes but that proved to be Spain’s only attempt on target in the first half.

Georgia went close through a Guram Kashia header that Unai Simon, again preferred to David de Gea in the Spain goal, got down to keep out with a strong hand.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia
Georgia’s midfielder Khvicha Kvaratskhelia celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification football match Georgia v Spain in Tbilisi on March 28, 2021. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

But Kvaratskhelia gave the hosts a shock lead two minutes before the break when controlling Otar Kiteishvili’s pass and firing a low shot across Simon into the far corner.

Luis Enrique made three substitutions within 10 minutes of the second half and the change of personnel paid off as Torres got in ahead of Lasha Dvali to tap in Jordi Alba’s cross.

Much like against Greece earlier in the week, Spain struggled to create too many more clear-cut opportunities against a side ranked 83 places below them in the FIFA rankings.

One of those earlier substitutions ultimately made the difference in the second of four added minutes, however, as Olmo fired in a shot from 25 yards that Loria could not keep out despite getting two hands to the ball.

Georgia’s frustrations then told with Shengelia seeing red for a poor studs-up challenge on Pedri in the final seconds.

Spain were expected to cruise through qualifying and reach the World Cup finals for a 12th time running, yet their Group B campaign has been anything but routine thus far.

What’s next?

Georgia round off their triple-header of March fixtures with a trip to Greece on Wednesday, the same day that Spain host Kosovo in Seville.


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