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Czech News in English » Sport » Czech Republic bow out of U21 European Championships

Czech Republic bow out of U21 European Championships

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The Czech Republic were knocked out of the U21 European Championships in heart-breaking fashion after drawing 1-1 with tournament favourites Germany. Unfortunately, for the hosts, a point wasn’t enough to qualify from Group A as Denmark beat Serbia 2-0 to win the group while Germany sealed the runners-up spot.

Before the match Germany knew a point would be enough to advance but they looked like taking all three during the opening 45 minutes as they quickly settled into a rhythm that threatened to blow the Czechs away. But this onslaught didn’t dispirit the Czech fans who were vocal in their support – cheering every tackle, pass and interception made by the Czech players.

Man of the moment, Jan Kliment, who scored an incredible hat-trick against Serbia last time out, was struggling to get into the game as the Czechs trademark long cross field pass was proving fruitless against the experienced German defence.

With the score goal less at the break and the Czechs seemingly there for the taking, it must have taken some strong words at the interval from Jakub Dovalil to inspire a second half performance that almost brought the fairy-tale ending the Czechs craved.

Czech captain, Jakub Brabec, almost opened the scoring on 46 minutes but his header was cleared off the line with the back of the net beckoning. Nevertheless, it was Germany who took the lead on 55 minutes when Nico Schulz capitalised on hesitation in the Czech box to stab home from close range.

Sensing it was do-or-die, the Czech coach sent on Ladislav Krejci, who has been linked with a transfer to Premier League side Newcastle United, to haul the his side back to the game and he responded in the 66th minute when rifling in a shot off the crossbar.

Eden erupted and the goal seemed to sap the energy from the German players. The tournament favourites were on the ropes but the Czech Republic couldn’t land the killer blow in the final exchanges.

“All of the players are really disappointed in the dressing room. We knew we had to win and I have to say my boys played fantastically and their efforts were great,” Jakub Dovalil reflected after the match “Under some circumstances a draw could have been but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to go to the semi-finals.”

An early exit from the tournament is cruel reward for the hosts but football at this level can be unforgiving. While the Czech Republic should be praised for the 4-0 demolition of Serbia and performance against Germany, it was the poor 45 minutes against Denmark in the opening match has proved decisive.

“Before the tournament we thought four points might be enough to qualify for the semi-finals, it’s a great pity we couldn’t play better in that half against Denmark.” Dovalil added.

“It also looked like everything was against us. Vaclav Kadlec and Tomas Kalas missed the first game through suspension and then Kadlec was injured against Serbia. We had the best attack in the group and the best striker but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.” the Czech coach concluded.

Nevertheless, it was a breakthrough tournament for Jihlava striker Jan Kliment who became only the third player in the competitions history to score a hat-trick. The 20 year-old striker was a surprise inclusion in the Czech Republic squad after scoring only three league goals for Jihlava last season. And it was an even bigger surprise, however, when he was selected to lead the line against Denmark in the opening game.
Kliment, though, played like a seasoned professional and paid back his managers faith with a blistering hat-trick to stun Serbia in the second group game.

Meanwhile, Paval Kaderabek cemented his place as one of the rising stars of Czech football with a stunning goal from right back against Denmark and a string of mature performances, illustrating why Bundesliga side Hoffenheim have paid around £3m for his services.

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