Group A: Poland 0 - 1 Czech Republic



Nerves were in abundance in Wroclaw on Saturday evening as the Czech Republic claimed the win against Poland thanks to a 72nd minute goal from Czech midfielder Petr Jiracek.


Deafening thunder and lightning welcomed the players onto the pitch as they were soaked by a deluge of rain reminiscent of scenes in the France-Ukraine match on Friday.


It was always bound to be a nervy affair during the opening stages with both teams needing a result to advance to the next round.


Poland certainly began in the ascendency and created some good but not clear-cut early chances. After just two minutes the Czechs failed to clear a free-kick that was crossed in leaving Dariusz Dudka to attempt a spectacular bicycle-kick from close range only to find the side netting.


However, just two minutes later it was the Czech Republic who were on the attack. Left-back Theo Gebre Selassie broke down his wing and pulled a good ball back into space around the penalty spot. However, the unmarked Vaclav Pilar who ran onto it managed to fluff his attempted shot and the ball was cleared.


Poland then created two more decent chances but both Blaszczykowski and Lewandowski failed to convert. After thirteen minutes Lewandowski was presented with another chance when a half-cleared free-kick dropped to him sixteen yards from goal but again he fired wide.


It was getting to a stage now where it seemed that if Poland didn’t take their chances soon they would be punished. Every touch of the ball was being cheered raucously by the Polish fans present in the stadium but this seemed only to add to the pressure that the players were inevitably feeling.


On the 23rd minute Polish right-back Sebastian Boenisch picked the ball up what must have been thirty five yards from goal and hit an excellent volley that would have nestled in the bottom corner had it not been for Petr Cech diving low to his right to push it around the post.


The surface was making it very tricky for both teams as the ball skidded around and players slipped and slid as though on ice. This made for a scrappy period before half-time with the only two chances coming from Plasil and Pilar for the Czechs. However, both were dealt with comfortably by Polish ‘keeper Tyton who retained his place despite Arsenal stopper Wojciech Szczesny being back available after his dismissal in the opening game.


The second-half began very slowly with both teams looking afraid of conceding. However, it was the Czech Republic who were beginning to control proceedings. Twice Poland failed to clear their lines from two free-kicks within the space of a minute but it came to nothing as Gebre Selassi headed over the bar.


The Czechs were by far the better team now as the game approached the 70th minute.  Plasil whipped in yet another free-kick that was met with a good header from Sivok who was unlucky to be denied by a super reflex save that Tyton himself probably knew nothing about.


Tyton then came to the rescue of the Poles when he saved an effort from Baros a minute later. However, the breakthrough then came in the 72nd minute. Sloppy play from Poland in the Czech half granted them the ball and they proceeded to attack with lightning pace. The ball was slipped through to Jiracek who opened his body beautifully and slid it by Tyton. Cue Czech euphoria as that goal would see them through if they could just hold on.


It was now up to Poland to go all-out attack as they desperately searched for the elusive two goals that would see them through ahead of the Czechs. However, they failed to create anything at all of note until the 94th minute when it was too late. The ball broke to Blaszczykowski in the box and he chipped it over Cech. It looked to be heading into the corner of the net to knock the Czech Republic out of the tournament but a fantastic headed clearance from Gebre Selassi saved the Czechs from heartbreak and ensures their place in the next stage alongside Greece.


Poland: Przemyslaw Tyton; Sebastian Boenisch, Damien Perquis, Lukasz Piszczek, Marcin Wasilewski; Jakub Blaszczykowski, Dariusz Dudka, Rafal Murawski (Adrian Mierzejewski 73), Ludovic Obraniak (Pawel Brozek 73), Eugen Polanski (Kamil Grosicki 56); Robert Lewandowski.

Subs not used: Marcin Kaminski, Adam Mataszczyk, Maciej Rybus, Grzegorz Sandomierski, Artur Sobiech, Wojchiech Szczesny, Jakub Wawrzyniak, Grzegorz Wojtkowiak, Rafal Wolski.

Bookings: Murawski (23), Polanski (48), Wasilewski (61), Blaszczykowski (87), Perquis (90).


Czech Republic: Petr Cech; Tomas Sivok, David Limbersky, Michal Kadlec, Theo Gebre Selassie; Jaroslav Plasil, Vaclav Pilar (Jan Rezek 86), Daniel Kolar, Petr Jiracek (Frantisek Rajtoral 84), Tomas Hubschmann; Milan Baros (Tomas Pekhart 90+1).

Subs not used: Marek Suchy, Milan Petrzela, Tomas Necid, Jan Lastuvka, David Lafata, Roman Hubnik, Jaroslav Drobny, Vladimir Darida, Michal Bilek.

Bookings: Limbersky (26), Plasil (87), Pekhart (90+4).


Referee: Craig Thompson (Scotland) Man of the Match: Vaclav Pilar

Attendance: 44,416