Petr Jiracek goal dumps co-hosts out of Euros and sends Czechs through to quarters
Czech Republic 1-0 Poland
Saturday 16 June 2012
Co-hosts Poland are out of UEFA Euro 2012 after they slumped to a disappointing defeat against a Czech Republic side that goes through to the quarter-finals as Group A winners.
Wolfsburg winger Petr Jiracek was the hero for the Czechs with the only goal of the game 18 minutes from time in a match which neither side particularly impressed.
Poland came into the game knowing that a win would have taken them into the last eight for the first time.
And they nearly forced a dramatic late draw when captain Jakub Blaszczykowski had a last-minute header cleared off the line.
The Poles started confidently, but were unable to get past Chelsea keeper Petr Cech and were the inferior side by the time the referee blew for the interval.
As things stood going into the second half - with Greece beating Russia - both teams were heading out of Euro 2012, unless one of them could find a way to win.
And Poland seemed paralysed by pressure, as previously admitted in this tournament by their manager Franciszek Smuda.
All they needed was their first victory in their sixth attempt to win a European Championship match, having managed draws in their opening Group games against Russia and Greece this year.
But Czech Republic always looked the most likely to score as they forced a series of chances in front of Przemysław Tyton’s goal. The PSV 'keeper, who retained his place in the side ahead of Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny, handled everything that was thrown at him until the 72nd minute.
Jiracek was sprung clear and he kept his cool to score with a neat, low shot.
Suddenly Poland played with the urgency that had been missing from their game for much of the night and they threw everything at the Czech goal.
Scottish referee Craig Thomson had to keep alert, issuing eight yellow cards for a combination of desperate tackling and time-wasting.
But he held his nerve along with the Czech Republic players who ultimately emerged as worthy winners.
1 Cech, 2 Gebre Selassie, 3 Kadlec, 6 Sivok, 8 Limbersky, 13 Plasil, 14 Pilar (9 Rezek, 87) 17 Hubschman, 18 Kolar, 19 Jiracek (12 Rajtoral 83), 15 Baros
Substitutes not used 16 Lastuvka, 23 Drobny, 4 Suchy, 5 Hubnik, 10 Rosicky, 11 Petrzela, 22 Darida, 7 Necid, 20 Pekhart, 21 Lafata.
22 Tyton, 2 Boenisch, 13 Wasilewski, 15 Perquis, 20 Piszczek, 5 Dudka, 7 Polanski (21 Grosicki 56), 10 Obraniak (23 Brozek 73), 11 Murawski (18 Mierzejewski 73), 16 Blaszczykowski, 9 Lewandowski.
Substitutes not used 1 Szczesny, 12 Sandomierski, 3 Wojtkowiak, 4 Kaminski, 14 Wawrzyniak, 6 Matuschyk, 8 Rybus, 19 Wolski, 17 Sobiech
Referee Craig Thomson (Scotland)