Czech Republic edge Greece for Group 4 supremacy
Monday, October 15, 2012
The Czech Republic collected seven points from three fixtures to win Group 4 ahead of Greece, who finished ahead of Northern Ireland despite the hosts' 8-1 closing win.
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The Czech Republic and Greece claimed the two elite round places on offer from UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying round Group 4, Northern Ireland having to settle for third despite an emphatic victory on the section's final day.
The Czechs claimed top spot by virtue of a 2-1 defeat of Greece – runners-up to Spain in last season's final – on the final day. A Dimitris Goutas own goal set Josef Csaplár's Czech team on their way and, though Nikos Ioannidis brought Greece level before the break, Dominik Mašek's strike on the hour ensured progress.
That meant mini-tournament hosts Northern Ireland missed out even though they concluded their campaign with an 8-1 dismantling of Moldova in which Dominic Ball scored four times, including a 12-minute hat-trick midway through the first half. They ended level with Greece but had lost their direct meeting and cannot go through as best third-placed team.
The two opening fixtures had been drawn, Moldova holding Greece 0-0 for what proved their only point and the Czechs and Northern Irish playing out a 1-1 scoreline in Dungannon. The matchday two fixtures both finished 2-0, Petr Nerad and Mašek scoring in each half to give the Czechs the points against Moldova.
The 52nd-minute dismissal of Northern Ireland's Luke Conlan proved crucial against Greece, Nikos Ioannidis – who had been fouled by Conlan for the penalty – picking himself up to score from the spot. Diamantis Chouchoumis came off the bench to score the second and, ultimately, wrap up Greece's place in the elite round.