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EC Qualification

  • November 11, 2011
  • • 19:15
  • • Generali Arena, Praha
  • Referee: M. Atkinson
  • • Attendance: 14560

Czech Republic 2-0 Montenegro: Pilar and Sivok strike to give hosts confident Euro 2012 play-off win

The hosts have put themselves in a strong position to qualify for the finals thanks to a positive performance in Prague

The Czech Republic are favourites to progress to Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland after a 2-0 first-leg play-off win in the Letna Stadium in Prague.

The home side came into the match favourites after reaching every European Championship since 1996 and dominated possession in the opening stages.

Theodor Gebreselassie burst forward in the 8th minute to feed Jan Rezek but the Anorthosis Famagusta striker was pressured into shooting wide.

Czech coach Michal Bilek had his team focusing their attacks on the flanks, winning free-kicks in dangerous areas but failing to provide a quality final ball. However, both sides looked determined not to concede with defences dropping deep in numbers without possession.

Once Montenegro settled Mirko Vucinic had their best moment of the half just before the 20 minute mark, meeting Savo Pavicevic’s cross on the volley, but the Juventus forward was another to waste a good opportunity.

The Czechs did finally fashion a clear chance, roared on by the home crowd, when Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky picked out Tomas Pekhart who headed back into the path of Petr Jiracek. With the ball 14 yards out, and bouncing up to be hit Jiracek should have tested, if not beaten Mladen Bozovic in the Montenegro goal, but he blasted high and wide. The score remained 0-0 at the half-time whistle.

Two minutes into the second period Petr Cech, wearing a special brace after breaking his nose in last weekend’s game with Blackburn, made a fine save. Montenegro midfielder Simon Vukcevic stepped onto his left and fired a dangerous effort toward the corner, only for the Chelsea keeper to turn it round the post.

On the hour mark Jiracek was again involved, showing quick feet on the edge of the Montenegro area to get away from Stefan Savic but with the ball close to his feet another chance went.

Moments later the Czech’s did finally take the lead when Vaclav Pilar drifted in from the left and hit a sumptuous right-footed drive that Bozovic could only watch curl into the side netting.

Space opened up as both sides pushed for the second goal, and there were calls for a penalty when Rosicky was brought down by Milorad Pekovic. However, referee Martin Atkinson correctly ruled the foul on the edge of the area. Amazingly Pekovic got away with blatantly handling Daniel Pudil’s free-kick , using his arm to deflect the ball down, but Atkinson ignored the Czech players protests.

In the dying seconds Tomas Sivok made the scoreline more comfortable for the home side, profiting from some tired Montenegrin defending. Rosicky curled a free-kick to the front post and Sivok met the ball first sending it into the bottom corner and a step closer to the finals in Ukraine and Poland next summer.