Czech Republic have progressed to the quarter-finals of Euro2012 by defeating Poland 1-0 in Wroclaw tonight.
Prior to the final Group A match, the Czechs were sitting second on the table with co-hosts Poland requiring victory to move through to the final eight but they were unable to capitalise on their first-half dominance as their hopes of going through to the next phase were dashed.
Czech Republic were outclassed in the first half but were able to completely change their output in the second term by dominating the Poles and they got the goal needed to give them maximum points, enabling them to finish ahead of Greece, who beat Russia 1-0 in Warsaw.
It was a fairly dour struggle for more than 70 minutes but the Czechs managed to edge ahead in the 72nd minute when Petr Jiracek received a pass from Milan Baros, who had held up play well, and slotted home underneath Przemsylaw Tyton.
Earlier, Robert Lewandowski flashed wide of the upright in the 10th minute after Jakub Blaszczykowski had pounced on a Czech defensive error before Petr Cech made two big saves to keep out Sebastian Boenisch from outside the area before denying Marcin Wasilewski from close range after the ensuing corner kick.
Poland keeper Tyton was well-placed to deny Vaclav Pilar who struck on target on the turn after his initial effort was blocked prior to Tomas Sivok’s 65th minute back post header from Jaroslav Plasil’s free-kick which Tyton blocked with a reflex save to keep Poland alive not long before the goal.
With a minute of regular game time remaining, Poland’s Lewandowski was close to knocking his header home from Blaszczykowski’s rightwing cross before Czech defender Michal Kadlec was on hand to produce a goal-line clearance when Blaszczykowski had beaten Cech from the right side of the area.
Michal Bilek’s Czech side will now take on the runner-up in Group B in the quarter-finals which could be any of Germany, Portugal, Denmark or Holland as the Poles are left to lick their wounds.
Euro2012 – Group A
Czech Republic: 1 (Petr Jiracek 72’)
Municipal Stadium, Wroclaw – 41,480