Under-21 Euro: Norwegian Espen Eskas referees Portugal’s debut against Georgia

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The Norwegian referee Espen Eskas will direct the meeting between the national teams of Portugal and hosts Georgia, on Wednesday, in the first round of Group A of the European Under-21 Football Championship in Tbilisi, UEFA announced.

The 34-year-old referee will be assisted by his compatriots Jan Erik Engan and Isaak Elias Bashevkin, while Albanian Juxhin Xhaja has been appointed to act as the fourth official in a tournament without the use of the video assistant referee (VAR) system.

International since 2017, Espen Eskas has already managed 20 games this season, including the Portuguese senior national team’s 4-0 win over Liechtenstein on March 23 at Lisbon’s Estádio José Alvalade to kick off Euro2024 qualifying Group J.

UEFA has also appointed Portuguese referee João Pinheiro to direct the match between Norway and Switzerland, from Group D, scheduled to take place on Thursday, in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

The 35-year-old referee from Vila Nova de Famalicão will be assisted by Bruno Jesus and Luciano Maia, with the role of fourth official given to Austrian Sebastian Gishamer.

Portugal begins its ninth appearance in the finals against newcomers Georgia on Wednesday at 8:00 pm local time (5:00 pm in Lisbon) at the Boris Paichadze Stadium in the capital Tbilisi, where the Netherlands and Belgium meet simultaneously in the first round of Group A.

Defeated finalists in 1994, 2015, and 2021, the ‘Quinas’ need to finish in one of the top two places to enter the next phase of the Under-21 European Championship, which brings together 16 participants for the second edition in a row and is co-hosted by Romania and Georgia, the country that will host the final, scheduled for July 8, at the Adjarabet Arena in Batumi.

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