FC Slovan Liberec have won the Czech title for the third time in their history after holding out for a home draw against FC Viktoria Plzeň in a tense final match of the season.
It was the first time in the history of the Czech top flight that the championship concluded with a final-day decider between the league leaders and second-placed side and a sell-out crowd at the U Nisy stadium witnessed Liberec deny the defending champions the goal that would have ensured they retained their title.
Despite their two-point advantage the hosts were not initially content to sit back and play for the draw, and carved out five presentable goalscoring chances in the first half, with veteran midfielder Tomáš Janů notably forcing a good save from Plzeň goalkeeper Marek Čech after 18 minutes and Miloš Bosančič's free-kick being similarly thwarted three minutes before half-time.
It was not all one-way traffic, however, and Liberec were also indebted to their keeper with David Bičík pulling off a spectacular save to prevent Marek Bakoš's volley from arrowing into the net on 57 minutes. Two minutes later Plzeň midfielder Vladimír Darida struck the post with a low shot from 16 metres, while at the other end Čech again saved from Michal Breznaník after a solo run and shot.
In a fraught final flurry the visitors threw men forward in a desperate bid to snatch the all-important winner and three minutes from time the ploy almost paid off, only for substitute Tomáš Wágner to see his shot on the turn from five metres out come back off the post.
With that chance went Plzeň's last hope of retaining their title and instead it was Liberec celebrating at the final whistle after clinching their third Czech championship.
The title is coach Jaroslav Šilhavý's first as either a player or coach. "It was a great finale between the league's two best teams," he said. "We can enjoy celebrations with our full capacity stadium, what else could we have wished. We were a bit lucky in the title decider, but the justice is not blind, it turned to the right side in the end."
Forward Jiří Štajner was also delighted with the triumph: "Even when we were losing by six points in the winter break we knew we were strong enough to come back to fight for the title, now we are very happy." Defender Theodor Gebre Selassie added: "We have managed to win the key games during the season, our team had a very good team spirit and that is why we are celebrating now."
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