Czechs beat Montenegro 2-0 in Euro playoffs
The Czech Republic took a big step toward qualifying for its
fifth straight European Championship by beating Montenegro 2-0 on
Friday in the first leg of their playoffs for a spot at next year’s
tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Vaclav Pilar opened the scoring after collecting a smart through
pass from captain Tomas Rosicky in the 63rd minute before firing a
right-foot shot from 20 meters that gave goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic
no chance to save.
It was the first international goal for the 23-year-old Viktoria
Plzen midfielder in his fifth match for his country.
Tomas Sivok headed in his third in the national jersey in injury
time from Rosicky’s free kick.
”I’m glad for the win,” Pilar said. ”That’s what we wanted to
achieve. We scored twice and what’s important, we didn’t concede a
The second leg is scheduled for Tuesday in Podgorica, the
capital of Montenegro.
”It’s just halftime,” Czech coach Michal Bilek warned. ”I’m
satisfied with our performance but we have to repeat it
The Czechs hope to maintain a record of reaching every European
Championship since Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and
Slovakia in 1993
Montenegro, seeking to qualify for its first Euros since
independence in 2006, held England to a 0-0 draw at Wembley in
qualifying but was under pressure throughout and failed to create a
surprise this time.
”We didn’t play (like) we wanted to,” Montenegro coach Branko
Brnovic said. ”We still have one more chance. It will be tough
because we need to win by three goals. But I remain an
The Czechs failed to capitalize on its first-half dominance with
Petr Jiracek wasting a clear chance to put the host ahead in the
34th minute. Rosicky showed his playmaking qualities, starting a
fluent move in the middle of the field before passing for Tomas
Pekhart then headed the ball to Jiracek, who had only goalkeeper
Mladen Bozovic to beat from 10 meters.
Jaroslav Plasil then tested the Montenegro ‘keeper with a low
long-range drive after the Montenegro defense failed to clear
Rosicky’s free kick.
Striker Jan Rezek just missed the target from close range after
Theodor Gebre Selassie broke down the right
At the other end, Savo Pavicevic crossed for Mirko Vucinic to
fire a volley just over the bar in the 16th as the visitors tried
to surprise the Czechs with fast counterattacks.
As the Czechs mounted pressure, Daniel Pudil and Rosicky had
their consecutive shots blocked in the 30th as the Montenegro
defense held firm.
One minute into the second half, Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech made
a diving save to deny Dejan Damjanovic and then palmed away Simon
Vukcevic’s curling shot a minute later as the visitors went on
attack after the break.
Cech, who already wears a head guard, wore a protective mask as
well after he had his nose broken in Saturday’s 1-0 win over
Blackburn in the Premier League. He was cleared to play a day
before the match at the Sparta Prague stadium
”It was something different for me,” Cech said. ”It was not
absolutely perfect but I was satisfied with the mask. … It’s an
excellent point of departure for us. It’s not over yet but I hope
”Petr showed what he is capable of,” Bilek said. ”He superbly
solved the dangerous chances.”
In the 70th minute, Sivok had his close-range header
Peckhart failed to exploit a blunder from Bozovic 10 minutes
before the end, when the goalkeeper kicked the ball straight at his
head, leaving him with an empty goal. The Nuremberg striker again
failed to score from close range in the final minute.
Czech Republic: Petr Cech, Theodor Gebre Selassie, Michal
Kadlec, Tomas Sivok, Daniel Pudil, Jan Rezek (Zdenek Pospech, 81),
Tomas Rosicky, Jaroslav Plasil, Petr Jiracek, Vaclav Pilar (Daniel
Kolar, 90), Tomas Pekhart (David Lafata, 90).
Montenegro: Mladen Bozovic, Savo Pavicevic, Miodrag Dzudovic,
Stefan Savic, Milan Jovanovic, Milorad Pekovic (Elsad Zverotic,
80), Nikola Drincic, Dejan Damjanovic (Vladimir Bozovic, 61), Simon
Vukcevic (Andrija Delibasic, 89), Stevan Jovetic, Mirko