Czech Republic overcome hosts
The Czech Republic had the worst possible start to the tournament when they were thumped by Russia but a 1-0 win over Poland saw them progress as the surprise winners of Group A, and possibly face Germany.
Before this game started, most experts would have named Russia as the winners of group A and as both of the final matches ambled towards half time, it looked as if all teams involved were settling for a 0-0 draw.
The teams were deadlocked at half time with nothing much to report and if the news of Greece’s surprise opener filtered through, it had very little effect on either team in Poland.
There was certainly a marked lack of urgency and commitment in this game between Poland and the Czech Republic, despite the fact that a win for the Poles was vital if they were to progress in Euro 2012. The Czechs however seemed more likely to open the scoring and while Milan Baros looked busy throughout, the most likely source of any real creativity came from the hard-working Vaclav Pilar.
As it stood both of these teams were out and it came as a bit of a surprise when the Polish defence was breached on 72 minutes. It took a defensive mistake to break the deadlock as Murawski lost the ball in midfield and as it broke to Petr Jiracek, the Wolfsburg midfielder became a national hero firing low past Tyton.
Amazingly, the game still refused to spark into life with neither side looking likely to add to the scoring. The only real drama to follow came with the last move of the game as Polish captain Błaszczykowski fired towards the top corner but with Petr Cech stranded, Michal Kadlec made a miraculous clearance to confirm the victory and seal the Czech’s surprise progression to the knockout stages.
Franciszek Smuda’s team now await their opponents in the quarter finals but for the time being, well done if you kept the faith that our expert showed in backing the Czechs at 2.30 to qualify from Group A.