The skipper scored a beautiful brace to hand his side victory over a Ukrainian side, who will be left curing their second half performance, despite netting a late consolation
With expectation high of both of these sides, the contest was predictably equal in the opening minutes. Tomas Pekhart was predictably the Czechs’ outlet from both set pieces and on the break, while Ukraine displayed their impressive passing range, though neither side were able to manufacture an opening.
Andriy Yarmolenko couldn’t connect with Bohdan Butko’s cross after the full back had a surging run, while at the other side of the pitch was well dealt with at the far post with Lukas Vacha looming.
Despite seeing far more of the ball than their opponents, Ukraine were unable to convert their dominance into a real chance, and were threatened on the break, as the Lvicata swung a barrage of crosses towards Nuremberg’s Pekhart, who was cutting an increasingly isolated figure in the Ukraine half.
Tomas Horava sent a powerful shot wide 25 yards from goal, as the Czech Republic looked to threaten once more, and minutes later, Ukraine ‘keeper Anton Kanibolitskiy breathed a sigh of relief as he came to claim a set piece, only to see Pekhart send his header narrowly wide.
Ukraine two rare chances with in the space of a minute, both squandered. First Artjom Putivtsev sent a free header straight at Vaclik, and then Marek Suchy carelessly gave away possession to Roman Zozulya, who bore down on goal, but failed to pass to Yarolenko and sent a tame shot wide.
Within four minutes of the teams coming out for the second half, the Czech Republic had taken the lead, with captain Borek Dockal finishing with a superb left-footed volley past Kanibolitskiy, who was given no chance.
Things went from bad to worse for Ukraine minutes later, as their captain Taras Stepanenko, one of their brighter players, had to be replaced, apparently struggling with a groin problem.
After 55 minutes, it was all over. After a superb series of passes, Dockal doubled his tally with a meticulously placed left-footed finish from the edge of the box.
The nightmare almost continued five minutes later, when Celustka’s header was cleared off the line.
Despite the body blows Ukraine had suffered, they refused to accept defeat. Evgeni Konoplienka stung Vaclik’s palms with a powerful shot, while Zozulya sent a free header straight at the Viktoria Zizkov ‘keeper.
Maksim Beliy gave his side a slim chance of snatching a point after he seized an opportunity presented to him from Artem Kraverts’ through ball after 87 minutes, and Beliy sent another shot wide deep into stoppage time, but in the end the goal was too little too late.
The Czech Republic have given themselves an outside chance of qualification from “the group of death”, but things will be very hard for both sides to progress with England and Spain to come.
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