Soucek sends Czech Republic to brink of Euro 2024 qualification with draw in Poland

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Soucek sends Czech Republic to brink of Euro 2024 qualification with draw in Poland
Pawel Bochniewicz and Tomas Holes battle for the ball
Pawel Bochniewicz and Tomas Holes battle for the ball
AFP
The Czech Republic moved to within touching distance of an eighth straight appearance at the European Championship finals after a 1-1 draw against Poland, extending the visitors’ impressive H2H record to just one defeat in five meetings (W3, D1).

Having seen Moldova held to a 1-1 draw by Group E leaders Albania earlier in the evening, the Czech Republic knew a victory in Warsaw would seal their place at next summer’s Euro finals.

That incentive was clearly on the minds of Jaroslav Silhavy’s men as they started brightly in the opening quarter-hour, with David Doudera firing a close-range effort wastefully wide of the target.

Poland gradually grew into the contest as the first half progressed, and were close to taking the lead when an inviting delivery from Nicola Zalewski narrowly evaded the run of Karol Swiderski in the area.

The hosts continued to probe for a breakthrough with half-time looming, and their pressure was duly rewarded seven minutes before the break, as Jakub Piotrowski found himself in the right place at the right time to latch onto a loose ball inside the six-yard box, firing home for his first-ever international goal.

Determined to find a swift response in the early stages of the second period, the visitors were level within four minutes thanks to Tomas Soucek, who slotted a neat finish into the bottom corner after Vladimir Coufal’s cross caused confusion in the Polish defence.

In a must-win game for the hosts, Robert Lewandowski looked desperate to net his first goal in six H2Hs against the Czechs, but the Barcelona striker fired uncharacteristically over the bar when well-placed in the box.

With time ticking into the final 25 minutes, Silhavý’s side went in pursuit of a winning goal to seal their place in Group E’s top-two automatic spots. 

The visitors showed promising signs in the final third, but ultimately came up short, with Doudera and Alex Kral both missing the target with late efforts, while Wojciech Szczesny also denied Ondrej Lingr at the death. The result ends Poland’s hopes of securing an automatic qualification spot, with Michał Probierz’s men now looking ahead to the play-offs. 

As for the Czech Republic, they need just a point from their final group game against Moldova to book their place in next summer’s tournament.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Tomas Soucek (Czech Republic)

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