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PIX: Czechs stun England; Portugal, Ukraine, France win

Last updated on: October 12, 2019 07:55 IST

The defeat ended England's decade-long unbeaten run in European Championship and World Cup qualifiers.

Zdenek Ondrasek scores Czech Republic's second goal in the Euro 2020 Group A Qualifier against England, at Sinobo stadium, Prague.

IMAGE: Zdenek Ondrasek scores the Czech Republic's second goal in the Euro 2020 Group A Qualifier against England, at Sinobo stadium, Prague. Photograph: Carl Recine

England suffered their first tournament qualifying defeat for 10 years when they lost 2-1 away to the Czech Republic in their Euro 2020 qualifying Group A clash on Friday.

 

It was a fully deserved win for the Czechs. They played with verve and determination against a sluggish England, who delivered their worst performance since Gareth Southgate took over as manager.

The  going back to a 1-0 loss to Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk exactly 10 years ago.

Southgate's side lacked precision in their passing, fluency in their movement and solidity at the back and the coach was clearly not happy with the display.

"I think we have had a lot of credit over the last couple of years and tonight we did not do enough. Our performance was not good enough, it's as simple as that. The goals we conceded were typical of the chances we gave away," he said.

"Collectively we have to accept there were not enough good performances. We conceded too many poor chances and we gave the ball away too many times," added Southgate.

Substitute Zdenek Ondrasek grabbed the winner five minutes from time when he confidently fired past keeper Jordan Pickford after Lukas Masopust burst down the right and picked him out.

It was a special moment for the burly Ondrasek who was making his national team debut at the age of 30 having enjoyed a recent run of scoring form for FC Dallas in Major League Soccer.

Harry Kane celebrates putting England ahead from the penalty spot.

IMAGE: Harry Kane celebrates putting England ahead from the penalty spot. Photograph: Carl Recine

Harry Kane had put England ahead with a penalty in the fifth minute after Raheem Sterling was brought down by Masopust.

But the Czechs drew level four minutes later when Jakub Brabec turned the ball home at the back post after the ball fell to him when Ondrey Celustka beat Michael Keane to a corner.

The home side looked sharper and hungrier, with Vladimir Darida excellent and influential in midfield, while England's shape never looked right.

The midfield, featuring two holding midfielders in Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice, was unable to get a grip on the game with the result that wingers Sterling and Jadon Sancho received little service.

Pickford did well to tip over a dangerous dipping shot from Masopust on the hour but chances were rare until Ondrasek popped up inside the area to end England's unbeaten qualifying run.

The result means the Czechs join group leaders England on 12 points with four wins, although they have played one game more.

England face Bulgaria in Sofia on Monday and Kane said they would need to improve.

"It's a bit of a wake-up call but we're in a good position. There's still stuff to work on for sure. We gave the ball away too cheaply and we'll have to go away and look at it. There's no need to panic and we'll go again on Monday."

Group A's other game between Montenegro and Bulgaria ended goalless.

Portugal, Ukraine close in with home wins

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring Portugal's second goal against Luxembourg.

IMAGE: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring Portugal's second goal against Luxembourg. Photograph: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

European champions Portugal and high-flying Ukraine edged closer to reaching next year's European Championship with comfortable home wins in qualifying Group B on Friday.

Ukraine sank Lithuania 2-0 to stay top of the group on 16 points from six games, followed by Portugal who are on 11 points from five matches after beating Luxembourg 3-0 with Cristiano Ronaldo among the scorers.

Third-placed Serbia have seven from five, Luxembourg have four points from six games and Lithuania are bottom with one point from six matches.

The Portuguese, who visit Ukraine on Monday, missed a string of chances to win by a bigger margin. Top scorer Ronaldo had been hoping to get two strikes to reach the milestone of 700 goals at club and international level.

Ronaldo's one goal, the second for Portugal on the night, demonstrated his class when a defensive blunder allowed the Juventus forward to race clear and beat goalkeeper Anthony Moris with a delightful lob from the edge of the penalty area.

Moris produced a barrage of fine saves to keep the score respectable after Bernardo Silva pounced on a loose ball and steered it past two defenders on the line to fire the home side ahead in the 16th minute.

Poor finishing coupled with Moris's heroics kept Portugal at bay before Ronaldo netted his 94th international goal to reach the 699 mark at senior level and Goncalo Guedes sealed the win with an 89th-minute effort.

Ukraine, who will qualify for Euro 2020 if they avoid defeat against Portugal on Monday, overpowered Lithuania thanks to a superb brace from Ruslan Malinovskiy.

The midfielder broke the deadlock with a crisp left-footed shot after a one-two with Junior Moraes and made it 2-0 with a brilliant free kick around the wall into the far corner.

In Monday's other fixture, Serbia must win in Lithuania to retain any realistic hopes of qualifying.

Giroud puts injury-hit France on the brink

Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring for France.

IMAGE: Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring for France. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Olivier Giroud's lack of club action proved no handicap as the Chelsea striker's penalty earned France a 1-0 away win against Iceland to put Les Bleus closer to next year's European Championship finals on Friday.

Giroud, who has only played 101 minutes in the Premier League this season, converted a second-half spot kick as injury-hit France stayed second in Group H behind Turkey who beat Albania 1-0 thanks to a last-gap Cenk Tosun goal.

France and Turkey, who meet at the Stade de France on Monday, have 18 points but the world champions are behind by virtue of their 2-0 loss in Konya in June.

Third-placed Iceland have 12 points, Albania nine, and Andorra are second to last on three points after beating Moldova 1-0 for their first-ever Euro qualifying points.

Andorra had lost all 56 of their previous Euro qualifiers but Marc Vales ended that streak by scoring with a header in the 63rd minute, after Moldova had seen Radu Ginsari sent off for picking up a second yellow card.

France were without the injured Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Hugo Lloris and there was more bad news when Ngolo Kante picked up a muscle injury during the warm-up, leaving his place in the starting 11 to Moussa Sissoko.

"It was a very tough game but we ground through and Olivier's goal did the job," said forward Antoine Griezmann.

"We had several chances to add to our goal and it would have been nice because they are dangerous on set pieces," said coach Didier Deschamps.

"But it's a good victory ahead of Monday's clash."

Both teams struggled to create chances in a poor first half as Les Bleus failed to supply Griezmann, who had the best opportunity with a blocked shot on the turn three minutes from the break.

The game turned France's way when Griezmann was brought down in the area by Ari Skulason, with Giroud sending Hannes Halldorsson the wrong way from the spot to score in the 66th minute.

With 37 international goals, Giroud is now four goals shy of Michel Platini's tally of 41, with only Thierry Henry having scored more for France (51).

France came close to doubling the tally when Blaise Matuidi's low shot hit the post but Deschamps's team remained under threat until the final whistle.

They could have ended the night alone on top of Group H but Turkey prevailed against Albania when Tosun found the back of the net in the final minute with a close-range effort.

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