Armenia denied by Czech Republic's Darida

Czech Republic 1-1 Armenia
Vladimír Darida equalised for the 2011 semi-finalists with 22 minutes left to deny Armenia a six-point Group 3 lead.

Lukáš Hejda of the Czech Republic (left) tries to escape the attentions of Gevorg Badalyan of Armenia

Armenia remain top of 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 3 but were denied an even bigger advantage as the Czech Republic also preserved an unbeaten start.

For 13 minutes Armenia harboured hopes of moving six points clear of their hosts after Edgar Malakyan had given them a second-half lead with a wonderful individual goal. But the Czech Republic, fourth in the 2011 finals, levelled on 68 minutes through Vladimír Darida and remain within three points of Armenia, holding a game in hand.

In a tactical first half of few goalscoring opportunities, there was little to give either goalkeeper cause for concern. Czech No1 Marek Štěch had to be at his best to pull off an excellent save from Gevorg Badalyan, who was put through on goal midway through the first half.

There was nothing Štěch could do about the opening goal, however, as Malakyan evaded the close attentions of his markers on the left before crashing an unstoppable shot in off the bar. The lead would not last long, however, and the Czech Republic, inspired by the attacking impetus of substitutes Jan Navrátil and Tomas Wágner, hit back through Darida, who was able to turn in a loose ball in the area, following fine approach play down the left flank.

The Czech Republic continue their campaign in Wales on 11 October before visiting Armenia exactly a month later.