Two goals from Bořek Dočkal gave the Czech Republic a winning debut in Group B after they defeated Ukraine 2-1 in Viborg.
Dočkal had served notice of his threat during a first half when he was at the heart of all the Czechs' best moments. It was just after the break, though, that he struck the decisive blows with two classy goals in the 49th and 56th minutes. Although Maxym Biliy scored late on for Ukraine, Jakub Dovalil's men held firm to make the ideal start in a section also containing Spain and England.
The Czech Republic exuded a confidence in the opening exchanges that you might expect from the only side to remain unbeaten during qualification. Tomáš Pekhart had finished the nine-goal top scorer en route to Denmark, and he nearly added to that tally early on, just mistiming a header from Dočkal's pacey free-kick. Nifty footwork from Dočkal then released Ondřej Čelůstka whose inviting cross was well cleared from under the nose of Pekhart by Bohdan Butko.
However, Ukraine also looked sharp in possession, and it was Butko who created the first opportunity for Pavlo Yakovenko's team. The full-back surged down the right and delivered a cross that was centimetres too long for Andriy Yarmolenko. FC Dynamo Kyiv striker Yarmolenko then bundled Yevhen Konoplyanka's 17th-minute free-kick wide.
The Dočkal-Pekhart axis looked the Czech Republic's most likely way to goal, and another searching delivery by the former narrowly eluded Pekhart's outstretched head. Čelůstka also had a header go close, but the latter stages of the half belonged to Ukraine.
First, Artem Putivtsev headed straight at Tomáš Vaclík when well placed, before Roman Zozulya robbed Marek Suchý but directed his shot against centre-back Ondřej Mazuch. If it was Ukraine who ended the half strongly, it was the Czechs who made the key intervention after the restart: the ever prominent Čelůstka dinked in a pass for Dočkal who brilliantly drove the ball in first time across Anton Kanibolotskiy.
Seven minutes later Dočkal, and the Czech Republic, had their second. This time it was Lukáš Vácha who Dočkal had to thank, driving into Ukraine's area and teeing up the FC Slovan Liberec midfielder to finish beautifully with his left foot from 18 metres.
Ukraine pushed forward, but Dovalil's side continued to threaten with Čelůstka's header cleared off the line by Butko. Yet just when it seemed the Czech Republic would see out the closing stages comfortably, Ukraine jangled a few nerves. Artem Kravets broke and fed fellow substitute Biliy, who placed his shot past Vaclík. Ukraine suddenly had belief, but for all Biliy's subsequent efforts, it was not enough to salvage a point.
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