The Czech Republic’s footballers have won their final warm-up game before their campaign to reach Euro 2012 gets underway next month. The Czechs struggled to impress in the early stages of Wednesday’s home friendly against Latvia, before moving up a gear in the second half and running out 4:1 winners.
The Czech Republic have generally failed to impress under trainer Michal Bílek, who was appointed 10 months ago. They didn’t manage to score a single goal in Bílek’s first three games at the helm, and had only won once in five outings before Wednesday night’s friendly in Liberec.
Czech fans will be forgiven if they thought “here we go again” during a first half which saw only a couple of shots on goal. In fact the only time supporters had a real chance to cheer was when captain Tomáš Rosický presented a cheque for half a million crowns towards the relief effort after floods in the Liberec region at the weekend.
But thankfully things took a turn for the better almost immediately the second half got underway, when Roman Bednář put the hosts ahead with a shot into the bottom right-hand corner. It was a big moment for the forward, who was making his first appearance for the national team since becoming embroiled in a drugs scandal last year.
That strike opened something of a floodgate, with goals from Martin Fenin, Zdeněk Pospěch and Tomáš Necid putting the Czechs 4:0 ahead inside the 78th minute. The Latvians did manage a consolation goal in the dying seconds, but by then the game had been long over as a contest.
Afterwards, young forward Martin Fenin denied it had been the proverbial game of two halves.
“I think the difference was that we scored some goals. I think from the start there were some signs…we went forward well in the first half. It’s always the same with an opponent like that – you have to wait for the first goal, and we succeeded in doing that in the second half. I don’t think there was such a big difference between the two halves…In the end we got four goals, so we’re satisfied.”
The fact three strikers were among the scorers on Wednesday night could lead to something of a selection conundrum for coach Bílek, with regular starter Milan Baroš now close to full fitness. He and goalkeeper Petr Čech should be back for the Czech Republic’s first European Championship qualifier, against Lithuania on September 7. The other teams in the group are Scotland, Lichtenstein and recent World Cup winners Spain.
Martin Nekola: Czech Chicago and other untold stories of Czechs abroad
Czech President Zeman addresses Council of Europe
Czech Republic faces court action over freedom of movement
Czech pre-election battle plugs into war of words over lithium mining deal
Prague prepares for launch of annual light show