Petr Jiracek shined in Czech's victory

BY foxsports • November 15, 2011

The Czech Republic qualified for its fifth straight European Championship by beating Montenegro 1-0 in the second leg of their playoff Tuesday.

The Czechs, who maintained a record of reaching every Euro since Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, won 3-0 on aggregate after beating Montenegro 2-0 in the first leg in Prague on Friday.

Against the run of play, Petr Jiracek scored the Czechs' winner with a low shot from some 10 meters (yards) in the 81st minute after surging past two Montenegrin defenders.

''We are all absolutely delighted,'' Czech coach Michal Bilek said. ''We have qualified for the European Championship and I think we have deserved it. We played well in the playoffs, especially in the first leg at home.''

''The Montenegrins were strong in attack. I am glad that we didn't concede a goal.''

Montenegro coach Branko Brnovic said his team was ''desperately unlucky.''

''After playing badly in the first half, we had numerous chances in the second. But, I'm proud of my players.''

After playing a lackluster first half, the Montenegrins - who were trying to reach their first championship since gaining independence in 2006 - went all out on the attack in the second and created several good opportunities.

Their best chance came in the 51st minute when Dejan Damjanovic's angled shot hit the bar after a touch by Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech. Minutes later, Montenegro forward Mirko Vucinic wasted another good opportunity by heading over the bar from close range.

''We knew it's going to be difficult,'' Cech said. ''In the second half, they had some chances. When we scored, everything was over.''

''Overall in the two matches, we were the better team,'' said Cech, who was wearing a protective mask as well as his normal head guard after having broken his nose while playing for Chelsea earlier this month.

Cech again saved the Czechs in the 71st when Vucinic fired twice from some five meters (yards), but the Chelsea goalkeeper made two consecutive reflex saves.

The Czechs largely controlled the midfield in the first half and were more dangerous in the attack as the Montenegrins struggled with composure and the possession of the ball.

Montenegrin forwards Vucinic and Stevan Jovetic tried to unlock the Czech defense in the first 45 minutes with individual actions, but without much success.

The only real chance for the Montenegrins in the first half came in the 40th when Damjanovic sent a low shot just past the left-hand post from about 15 meters.

''It was a very tough game,'' said Czech captain Tomas Rosicky. ''Both the matches were like big battles. The second leg was even tougher because the pitch was in terrible condition.''



Czech Republic: Petr Cech, Theodor Gebre Selassie, Michal Kadlec, Tomas Sivok, Roman Hubnik, Jan Rezek (Zdenek Pospech, 60), Tomas Rosicky, Jaroslav Plasil, Petr Jiracek, Vaclav Pilar (Daniel Kolar, 69), Tomas Pekhart (Milan Baros, 84).

Montenegro: Mladen Bozovic, Savo Pavicevic, Elsad Zverotic, Miodrag Dzudovic, Stefan Savic, Vladimir Bozovic, Fatos Beqiraj (Andrija Delibasic, 57), Dejan Damjanovic (Simon Vukcevic, 77), Nikola Drincic, Stevan Jovetic, Mirko Vucinic.

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