"The first matches do not decide EUROs," said Petr Čech as his Czech Republic side recovered from a 4-1 opening defeat to reach the last eight with a 1-0 win against Poland.
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Having overcome a shaky start, the Czech Republic made it through to the quarter-finals with a 1-0 win against Poland. Petr Čech, Michal Kadlec, Milan Baroš and Václav Pilař were delighted to see their side move from third in Group C to first in the space of 90 minutes.
Petr Čech, Czech Republic goalkeeper
Compared to the match against Russia, when we started well and then it turned badly, today we started badly; the pressure of the occasion was obvious. As time went by we improved, created chances and in the end I think we deserved to score.
We heard about the other score. [Assistant coach] Vladimír Šmicer told us, and you could see it here on the big screen, so everybody must have seen it. But we were focusing on ourselves – we told ourselves that we wouldn't wait for miracles, and that we would score and try to win. I think that was obvious during the whole of the second half.
We have six points, the most in the group, so we deserved to finish top. The first matches do not decide EUROs, as I said from the start. The Russians won the first match, and they are going home.
Michal Kadlec, Czech Republic defender
It's an indescribable feeling, it's hard to say anything about it, because football showed how hard it can be in the first match against Russia, and now it's shown how beautiful it can be. At this time it's almost a pity to say anything, you simply need to look at how it all was on the pitch. The final whistle, it was something unbelievable. This is why we play football.
A draw wouldn't have been enough for us, even though we did think before the match that it might be. We wanted to finish at least second, and now we've finished in first place. I don't know what to say about it. It's totally mental. The fans here were of course against us, but after the match the whole stadium applauded us. The Polish applauded us, our own fans applauded too. It was a beautiful moment.
Milan Baroš, Czech Republic forward
We hoped that the Russians, with their strength, would get at least a draw, so a draw would be enough for us, but during the match, when we saw on the screen the result was still 1-0, we had to start to attack a bit. Fortunately, we scored quite soon afterward. The boys in defence played fantastically. Can we reach the semi-finals? Why not? Nobody believed in us, but we got this far. In the quarter-finals, it is about one match. It can be about one set piece, about one chance, so why not?
Václav Pilař, Czech Republic midfielder
I'm feeling great. We had a goal, a goal and a dream: to qualify from the group. We've managed to do this and we deserved it. After the match against Russia it seemed like everybody was writing us off. We gave the best possible response to our fans.