The Czech Republic booked their place in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals with a battling 1-1 Group 2 draw with Greece at the Olympique de la Pontaise stadium in Lausanne.
France on top
Despite Georgios Kyriazis cancelling out Zdenek Grygera's first-half penalty with a left-foot strike 20 minutes from time, the Czechs progressed to the last four as runners-up in the section thanks to France's 2-0 defeat of Belgium in a game played simultaneously in Geneva.
After a tentative opening spell, the game's first clear-cut chance fell to Czech Republic striker Milan Baroš in the 15th minute after he was played onside by Sotirios Kyrgiakos as he ran on to a Stepan Vachousek pass. Baroš bore down on the Greek goal but Stefanos Kotsolis made a fine save with his feet to deny the Liverpool FC forward.
Six minutes later Kyriazis released Dimitrios Salpingidis with a floated pass but his angled drive was saved by AC Sparta Praha goalkeeper Petr Cech. Referee Attila Hanacsek made the first of six bookings on the half-hour mark - penalising Kyriazis -and the yellow card was out again six minutes later, Spiridon Vallas the culprit for a shove on Baroš which won the Czechs a penalty. Grygera made no mistake from the spot, slotting the ball low to the keeper's left for the opening goal.
Six minutes before half-time Efstathios Tavlaridis was cautioned for a tackle by the far touchline, and the free-kick which followed launched a spell of Czech attacking which led to Karel Pitak having a glorious chance to double his side's lead. A long ball forward found Baroš, who drew two defenders and slipped the ball wide for the SK Slavia Praha player. Under pressure from Xenofon Gitas, however, Pitak hammered his shot wide.
Perhaps still smarting from his miss, Pitak was booked three minutes into the second half for a foul on Kyrgiakos and was lucky to escape further punishment when he brought the same man down a minute later after being bamboozled by a turn of the Cruyff variety.
Kotsolis on hand
Pitak was involved again on 51 minutes when he controlled the ball on the run with his right boot and raced into the area, only for Kotsolis to block his angled drive. Then Dimitrios Papadopoulos sent a header into Cech's arms before Baroš was booked for handball at the other end.
Greece fight back
With the Czechs happy to sit on their one-goal lead, Greece slowly forced their way into the game and duly equalised with 20 minutes left to play. Konstantinos Loumpoutis floated in a left-footed free-kick which Cech clambered above a crowd of players to punch. The keeper succeeded only in knocking the ball to Kyriazis eight metres out and the Iraklis FC player turned to lift a left-footed shot into the net.
Four minutes later the Czechs had their backs to the wall as Greece won a free-kick in an identical position. Again Loumpoutis swung the ball in, but this time Cech opted to stay on his line and safely gathered a tame header from Efstathios Tavlaridis.
Greece, spurred on by their goal, surged forward relentlessly and Cech pulled off the save of the match when he got across to a stinging 25-metre drive from Ioannis Amanatidis and palmed the ball wide. It was the Czech Republic, though, who were on top late on and the final whistle triggered an outpouring of delight on their bench as they celebrated qualifying for the last four.