England Czech mated by Ondrazek and lose for first time in a decade
Czech Republic inflicted England's first quaifying loss for 10 years and one day courtesy of a 2-1 win in Prague. It was England's toughest qualifier for a long time and the home side were definitely the better team. England were well below par in this important top of the table clash.
The hosts started the better and Schick had an early opportunity early on before England won a penalty four minutes in. Kane played in Sterling and he was brought down by Masopust. It was a clear penalty and Harry Kane struck it down the middle to beat Vaclik and make it 0-1.
That goal sparked the Czechs into action and Pickford had to deny Coufal after Kral's initial shot deflected off Keane's arm. Seconds later, they restored parity from a corner. The ball in was flicked towards goal by Celustka and Brabec tapped home from less than six yards out. It was a deserved equaliser and the home team kicked on from there. England were very nearly caught out at a set piece when Jankto's corner was flicked on by Soucek and Schick was inches away from scoring in the 16th minute.
Boril then struck a tame effort at Pickford eight minutes later as did Schick with a header later on. Finally, 12 minutes before the break, England did something. Kane saw a shot blocked before Mason Mount fired wide after being put off by Celustka. The game was relatively even for the rest of the half and Masopust slicing wide after Schick beat Trippier down England's right the closest either side came to scoring again before the break.
After the break, the home side took control once again and Darida had an ambitious effort before Soucek wasted an opportunity when Masopust dispossessed Maguire. Then in the 57th minute, the game became end to end.
Kane played in Sterling who was one on one with Vaclik, but the Sevilla GK stayed on his foot and knocked the ball away with his hand, then three minutes later, Pickford had to make a tremendous save to prevent Masopust's curling shot from finding the back of the net. Kane was then a whisker away from making it 1-2 in the 64th minute, but he could not quite get onto Sterling's cross. Then, Henderson shot from outside the area and Vaclik had to make a save.
The game then calmed down for 10 or 15 minutes and the only thing of note was Sterling being harshly carded for playing on after a whistle which many struggled to hear.
Jordan Pickford had to make another vital save 13 minutes from time to deny Kral after he played a lovely one-two with Darida. Kane was denied by Vaclik after being fed by Barkley before the Czech substitute dealt the decisive blow. Five minutes from time, Ondrasek scored. Masopust darted down the near flank before cutting back to the MLS player when the byline and Maguire were drawing near. The 30 year-old debutant kept his cool from 10yards to send the home crowd ecstatic.
England tried to rescue something at the end, but were unable to do so, and Kopic could and should have made it three on the counter with the last kick of the game. In any case, the Czech Republic claimed a famous win to make Group A very interesting indeed.. Both teams are on 12 points while Kosovo are not far behind either on eight. Although England are still in a great position, another defeat could make panic set in. For Czech Republic, it was a great win and arguably a deserved one.