Czech Republic claim Under-17 finals berth
Wednesday, 25 March 2015
With Ondřej Šašinka in form in front of goal, the Czech Republic won elite round Group 7 ahead of Scotland and can now look forward to a place at the May finals in Bulgaria.
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The Czech Republic defeated Scotland 1-0 in their final-day encounter to top elite round Group 7 and qualify for May's expanded 16-strong UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals.
Going into matchday three level on four points with the Scots, the Czechs prevailed in windy conditions thanks to Ondřej Šašinka's 13th-minute header, the striker turning in Michal Sadílek's free-kick via the upright.
While the Czechs can relax, safe in the knowledge that they are through, Scotland must wait to learn if they advance as one of the seven runners-up across the eight groups with the best record against the teams first and third in their section.
• Winners: The Czech Republic began with a 1-0 success against hosts Hungary, Šašinka scoring a half-volley in the 66th minute, but their momentum was then checked by Bosnia and Herzegovina. They twice led through penalties – No10 Šašinka on target with the first – yet were pegged back on each occasion. Mijo Miletić's added-time equaliser earned the Bosnians a point and meant the Czechs had to overcome Scotland in their last game, which they duly did.
• Other performances: Scotland registered only two goals, both against Bosnia and Herzegovina on day one, in finishing as runners-up. They failed to make the most of having the numerical advantage for a large period of the 0-0 draw with Hungary. Šašinka's header, however, was the sole goal Scot Gemmill's team conceded.
• Key moment: Šašinka's fine strike against the Hungarians. It was a rare moment of quality in an otherwise attritional contest, one that got the Czechs' campaign off to the perfect start.
• Star performers:
Czech Republic attacking midfielder Ondřej Lingr and, for his goals, Šašinka.
Notable mentions should go to Scotland left-back Daniel Harvie – who was solid defensively, adventurous and dangerous from set pieces – and tireless midfield runner Mark Hill.
Václav Cerný, Czech Republic coach
We are delighted to have qualified for the finals in Bulgaria. The early goal was crucial for us today. My team showed great heart and played as a unit. We're happy to have qualified, but now we must prepare for the finals.
Scot Gemmill, Scotland manager
There was a real difference between the two halves today – you would probably go as far as to say the wind was a factor. We definitely had chances in the second half but couldn't quite capitalise on them.