Plzeň hold off Académica to secure passage
Thursday, November 22, 2012
A. Académica de Coimbra 1-1 FC Viktoria Plzeň
Pavel Vrba's charges did enough in Portugal, despite Edinho's late penalty, as they sealed the point that secured their progress from Group B.
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FC Viktoria Plzeň got what they came to Portugal for, as they secured a draw against A. Académica de Coimbra to confirm qualification from UEFA Europa League Group B.
Needing just a point to earn their passage, Pavel Vrba's men thought they had all three when Pavel Horváth scored from the spot in the 57th minute, but a late Edinho penalty meant the spoils were shared. The Czech side will play off with Club Atlético de Madrid on matchday six for pole position in the section, with the Spanish team currently two points better off.
After achieving their first-ever win in the competition on matchday four, and ending holders Atlético's run of 16 straight European victories in the process, it was no surprise to see the hosts come out bursting with energy. That early enthusiasm was personified by Marinho who charged down a clearance from Plzeň keeper Matúš Kozáčik, allowing Edinho to lay off for Cleyton, who could not tease his shot beyond the recovering Kozáčik.
However, as the half wore on the visitors showed why they were five points better off than the home side coming into the game, as they opened up Académica with regularity. Jakub Hora threatened on both flanks before being sent clear, though Ricardo did well to rush from his line to block.
After the interval David Štípek's surge from halfway took him into the Académica area, where João Dias's challenge sent the winger sprawling. Horváth did the rest from the spot, slipping the ball inside the right post. Plzeň were coasting to a third straight group success, until Marián Čišovský bundled over Salim Cissé inside the area with two minutes remaining, and Edinho drove down the middle to set up a rousing finale from the Students. However, the winner was not forthcoming, meaning they travel to Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC on the final day with nothing to play for.