Poland dumped out by Czechs
Petr Jiracek scored a crucial second-half winner as the Czech Republic booked a place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.
Last Updated: 16/06/12 10:36pm
Petr Jiracek scored a crucial second-half winner as the Czech Republic booked a place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 - but they almost lost it with the last kick of the game.
With Greece leading 1-0 against Russia in Warsaw, the Czechs needed victory to qualify for the knock-out stages, and it was only secured by a last-gasp goal-line clearance from Michal Kadlec.
It meant that the Czech Republic progress as group winners and will play the runners up from Group B - either Germany, Portugal, Denmark or Holland.
Before kick off it seemed likely that a draw would be enough for the Czechs, with Russia expected to beat Greece, whilst Poland knew that only a win would continue their interest in the tournament.
And the scenario was illustrated perfectly in the first half as Poland poured forward, whilst those from just across the border seemed reluctant to commit men in attack.
But hearing news of the Greek's goal at half time forced the side who lost their opening game 4-1 to Russia to push men forward.
It seemed inevitable that their superior class would eventually tell, as they created several chances before Jiracek struck with a neat finish.
The hosts will be disappointed as they produced little to threaten their neighbours. In front of an expectant crowd in Wroclaw they created little, and can only point to a first-half Robert Lewandowski chance and the last-ditch effort from Jakub Blaszczykowski which produced Kadlec's dramatic clearance.
Similar to their previous two matches, Poland were backed by boisterous home support and they nearly gave them something to shout about early on but Dariusz Dudka's overhead kick hit the side netting.
Yet they should have been behind soon after and were grateful for Vaclav Pilar fluffing his lines in front of goal after Theodor Gebre Selassie had picked him out with a low ball into the area.
The frenetic start continued, with Poland midfielder Ludovic Obraniak's free-kick from a narrow angle hitting the side netting once more, while Lewandowski should have done better after slicing horribly wide with a decent sight at goal.
It seemed only a matter of time that the Czech Republic defence would be breached and goalkeeper Petr Cech had to be at his best to push away Sebastian Boenisch's dipping 30-yard effort.
With the rain teeming down in Wroclaw, the action slowed down a touch although the Czechs, who beat Greece after losing to Russia, ended the half well.
Milan Baros, after beating the offside trap, failed to control David Limbersky's chip over the defence while Pilar's powerful strike from the edge of the area was gathered by Polish keeper Przemyslaw Tyton at the second attempt.
As the teams trudged off at the interval it was the Czechs who would be going through but Greece taking a shock lead on the stroke of half-time against Russia meant both the Czech Republic and Poland needed victory if the result in Warsaw stayed the same.
Spurred into action the Czechs responded positively, dominating possession in the early stages of the second half but failing to create any clear cut chances.
However, Poland were conceding needless free-kicks on the edge of their area and were nearly made to pay for their reckless defending.
Plasil's excellent delivery found Tomas Sivok but his header was blocked and then instantly punched away by Tyton.
The Czechs were rewarded for their second-half persistence in the 72nd minute as Jiracek gave them a deserved lead.
Baros ran through on goal before sliding the ball to Jiracek, who cut past Boenisch and coolly slotted past Tyton.
Poland head coach Franciszek Smuda threw caution to the wind, bringing on Pawel Brozek and Adrian Mierzejewski immediately after but they failed to test Cech although the Czech Republic defended stoutly.However, in injury time Poland's Jakub Blaszczykowski went through on goal and lifted the ball over Cech only for Kadlec to head off the line, with the final whistle blown immediately after to herald scenes of jubilation from Bilek's men.
|Czech Republic||Team Statistics||Poland|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||6|
|4||Shots off Target||6|
|56.5||1st Half Poss.||43.5|
|64.1||2nd Half Poss.||35.9|