Latvia ended any faint hopes Georgia may have had of making a late push for
second place in Group F as they pulled off a surprise win in Tbilisi.
Aleksandrs Cauna hit the only goal of the Euro 2012 qualifying encounter,
breaking the deadlock in the 64th minute with a strike direct from a free-kick.
Cauna took the set-piece from a position to the left of goal, 20 yards out, and
cracked the ball past goalkeeper George Loria.
Latvia came to Georgia with coach Aleksandrs Starkovs cautious about the
potential of his team, who had gathered just four points from six previous
matches in the campaign - gleaned from a victory over group whipping boys Malta
and a home draw with tonight's opponents.
He talked of the requirement to give a ``worthy display'' and asked for
``patience and continued support'' from supporters as a new generation of
players bed down in the national team.
An away victory seemed unlikely, but Latvia's players rose to their challenge.
Georgia's first-half dominance meant Latvia had every reason to be grateful for
the goalless scoreline at the interval.
Cauna drilled an early free-kick into the Georgia wall after Jaba Kankava
fouled Maris Verpakovskis, receiving a yellow card, but Georgia were then on
Guram Kashia headed wide from six yards before David Targamadze and Kakha
Kaladze both put shots wide of the right post.
Efforts from Alexander Iashvili and Guram Kashia failed to make goalkeeper
Andris Vanins work, but he had to be alert to keep out strikes from Targamadze
and Otar Martsvaladze as half-time approached.
Georgia continued to apply pressure after the break, with Martsvaladze twice
blazing over the bar and having a header saved by Vanins, and Kaladze seeing a
There was hope for Latvia when Oskars Klava found space in the Georgia penalty
area, even though he put a header off target from Artis Lazdins' free-kick.
And three minutes later they took a surprise lead when Cauna fired in. Loria
got a touch but could not prevent the ball finding the net.
The goal took the sting out of Georgia.
They had three chances of note in the rest of the game, Vladimir Dvalishvili
putting the ball wide and then having a shot blocked in stoppage time, either
side of an ambitious attempt from Shota Grigalashvili which soared over the