Czechs signed up for UEFA EURO 2016 finals

"We are tremendously happy to have finished the job with two games to spare," beamed Petr Čech as the Czech Republic confirmed their place at UEFA EURO 2016.

Czech players celebrate at full time in Riga
Czech players celebrate at full time in Riga ©Roman Koksharov

The Czech Republic became the second side to qualify for UEFA EURO 2016, a 2-1 success in Latvia – combined with Turkey's 3-0 win against the Netherlands elsewhere in Group A – sending Pavel Vrba's men to the finals.

Reaching next year's tournament may be a good omen for the Czechs, who have tended to do well in UEFA European Championships in years ending with the number six: Czechoslovakia won the 1976 edition and the independent Czech Republic made it to the final 20 years later.

The 2016 vintage will now be interested observers at the final tournament draw in Paris on 12 December.

Reaction
Petr Čech, Czech Republic captain
It was a hard game for us. We played superbly in the first half, took our chances, were on the ball and scored two nice goals. But Latvia brought on fresh players from the bench and took more risks. They increased their intensity and we had to cope with their long balls. They scored and the last 20 minutes were hectic, but we survived and we are tremendously happy to have finished the job with two games to spare. We are going to play against a highly motivated Turkey side in our next match and we wanted to avoid a situation where we had to get points from that game.

Pavel Vrba, Czech Republic coach
We're obviously very happy to be going to France. I said before the start of qualification that the Netherlands are clear favourites in our group, with us, Turkey and Iceland fighting for the second spot. I'm glad we achieved our goal.

I didn't want to know the score in Turkey, but my assistant ran to the bench at some point and shouted that Turkey were 2-0 up. That threw my concentration so I quickly sent him away.

Some 10-15 years ago, we had players at top European clubs. The situation is different now and we have fewer famous players, but it makes me even happier that we have got results with lower-profile players.

 

Key stats
Best result: winners 1976 (as Czechoslovakia)
Coach: Pavel Vrba
Leading scorers: all-time – Jan Koller (55); current – Tomáš Rosický (22)
Most appearances: all-time – Karel Poborský (118); current – Petr Čech (117)

Record EURO appearances
Overall: Petr Čech (46)
Final tournament: Karel Poborský (14)

Record EURO goals
Overall: Jan Koller (21)
Final tournament: Milan Baroš (5)

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