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Czech cheer as Jiráček ends Montenegro bid

Montenegro 0-1 Czech Republic (agg: 0-3)
Petr Čech's brilliance in goal and Petr Jiráček's late strike ensured Michal Bílek's visitors won through to their fifth successive EURO.

Petr Jiráček celebrates his winning strike in Montenegro
Petr Jiráček celebrates his winning strike in Montenegro ©Getty Images

The Czech Republic will compete in their fifth successive UEFA European Championship finals after winning 1-0 in Podgorica to complete a 3-0 aggregate play-off success against Montenegro.

Michal Bílek's Czechs arrived with a two-goal advantage from the first leg and had to weather a second-half storm. They finally ended the hopes of their hosts with nine minutes remaining when Petr Jiráček broke through Montenegro's defence and calmly beat Mladen Božović.

For Montenegro it brought a sad conclusion to their maiden EURO qualifying campaign, and Branko Brnović's men will rue the chances they missed after the restart when they had the Czechs under severe pressure.

Awash with red and yellow, a noisy Stadion Podgorica urged Montenegro on from the outset but the home side struggled initially to open up a well-organised Czech rearguard. Bílek's side had an extra man in midfield and it took the hosts 40 minutes to create the game's first real opening as Dejan Damjanović picked up a pass by Elsad Zverotić, turned Michal Kadlec in the box and shot wide from some 14 metres.

The second half proved a different story. Montenegro found an extra level of energy and pinned the Czechs back only to find Petr Čech in top form. Six minutes after the break, Mirko Vučinić and Fatos Beqiraj exchanged passes, and the Juventus striker found the unmarked Damjanovič who fired in a shot kept out by a combination of Čech's reflexes and the crossbar.

Five minutes later Montenegro came again, but from Zverotić's corner Vučinić somehow headed over from five metres. Montenegro were looking a threat from almost every attack, but could find no way past the brilliant Čech who twice thwarted Vučinić.

By the closing stages, Montenegro had five forwards on the field but Czech defenders Roman Hubník and Tomáš Sivok were getting their heads to a succession of balls into the box and the visitors duly broke to rub salt into the wounds with Jiráček's strike.