The Czech Republic sealed their passage to the UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs with a comfortable 3-1 Group 1 win in Finland.
The result saw the Czechs leapfrog Romania, who started the day in second place in the group with all their fixtures played, into the top two. They have progressed as Group 1 runners-up after the Netherlands' won their final qualifying game 4-0 at home against F.Y.R. Macedonia.
The Czechs were always in control of the game in Vantaa, but it took until the 36th minute for them to finally make the pressure tell when defender Martin Knakal headed home from five metres from a free-kick. The vistors even closer towards the play-offs six minutes into the second half as Vaclav Sverkos scored their second goal from close range.
Finland fought back, and Juho Mäkelä scored from the penalty spot on 65 minutes after winger Kari Arkivuo had been fouled in the penalty area, but the visitors' nerves were eased considerably with eight minutes remaining as Daniel Pudil struck a tremendous free-kick from a seemingly impossible angle to make it 3-1.
Petri Oravainen missed a late chance to pull a goal back moments after Mäkelä had seen a good shot blocked, but the Finns were not too disappointed with the final result, which leaves them second from bottom of the group. "We knew the Czechs were dangerous from dead ball situations, but we couldn't stop them," said Finland coach Markku Kanerva.