Michal Bílek said the Czech Republic's ability to learn lessons helped them progress at the expense of Poland, whose coach Franciszek Smuda stepped down after a "bitter" defeat.
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Czech Republic coach Michal Bílek praised his squad's capacity to learn from their mistakes after steering them to the quarter-finals as Group A winners thanks to their 1-0 defeat of Poland. His opposite number Franciszek Smuda was understandably disappointed, on the other hand, but sounded an upbeat note about the future of the Polish national side as he stepped down from the role after two-and-a-half years in charge.
Michal Bílek, Czech Republic coach
We're really satisfied as we beat a team playing at home. They'd played two great games; they were favourites for this match. We couldn't get into the game in the first 25 minutes, but then we did well and managed to score. We were patient. The situation was difficult after the first game, but the boys showed their character, and I think we deserved to go through.
We started to improve at the end of the first half. We saw the score in the other match, and saw that Greece had scored. I told the players to be patient and be attentive at the back. There were some situations that weren't 100% safe, but we could counterattack as they opened up. One of those breaks led to the goal. We knew that they were strong down the right-hand side, and we just closed them off. I don't think there was a clear-cut chance which came from the right.
I think we play great football, and want to play great football. We wanted to do that against Russia too, and I think we did at the start of the game, but we forgot to defend. That's why they scored so many goals. But we learned and defended much better in the next two games. The team is confident, we have faith in ourselves. We had some difficult situations, but managed to play our way out of them as a team. We knew that if we lost, we would go home. We're happy that we're not.
Tomáš Rosický tried his injury before the game but couldn't play. It's difficult to say whether we'll have him for the next match. Everyone's doing their maximum to get him fit again, but of course we missed him. He's irreplaceable, but we still won. The objective was to get through to the quarter-finals. We didn't expect to win the group after the first match. Now everything is possible, so we want to continue.
Franciszek Smuda, Poland coach
My contract expires after EURO 2012 and I had an agreement with Polish Football Federation president Grzegorz Lato that if we didn't qualify from the group then it wouldn't be extended.
We have to swallow this bitter pill today. I think probably we were too confident about our chances of beating the Czechs. They played excellent football and scored a goal. We had some chances before the break and didn't take advantage. That's why we lost.
At half-time, we left the dressing room saying we wanted to attack. On the pitch, however, we did something different to what had been said. We can't say the players didn't want to – perhaps they were even too motivated. Unfortunately, we have to live with it. We wanted to reach the quarter-finals but didn't manage to do it.
In the last two-and-a-half years, we have created a team we can count on in the future. Maybe some young players will be added. We can't say that, as I leave this job, the ground has been left barren. We played some good matches. They weren't totally perfect, not as good as we might have imagined, but this is how football works.
After the game with Russia, we said that the team was good, and people agreed with this as they'd played effectively. I believe this team has made great progress and can improve further. In two months, there are World Cup qualifiers, and I really think they can qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.