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Czechs knock Russia and Poland out

Czech Republic 1-0 Poland

A second half strike from Peter Jiracek (pictured) sent the Czech Republic through to the last eight as Group A winners and knocked Poland and Russia out.

Poland squandered several chances in the first half but the Czechs were on top after the break as they sealed their quarter-finals spot.

Poland had the first chance of the night in the opening minutes. A Ludovic Obraniak free-kick found Robert Lewandowski (pictured) and his header set up Dariusz Dudka, whose overhead kick found the side-netting.

The Czechs responded and Theodor Gebre Selassie sent in a cross from the right. Vaclav Pilar had space inside the box but made a mess of his shot.

At the other end, Poland - needing a win to progress - carved out a series of chances.

Jakub Blaszczykowski burst into the box, but his shot from an angle was blocked by Petr Cech, then Robert Lewandowski shot wide, as did Sebastian Boenisch soon after.

Eugen Polanski fired a shot over the bar from the edge of the box in the 15th minute, then Boenisch and Lewandowski had half chances as the Poles continued to pile forward in heavy rain.

Baros goes close

Milan Baros had a chance to give the Czech Republic the lead against the run of play in the 37th minute when he beat the offside trap, but just failed to get a vital touch, then Jaroslav Plasil and Vaclav Pilar saw pot shots easily saved.

Poland went close in the 42nd when first Rafal Murawski's shot deflected wide, then Lukasz Piszczek blazed over.

In the first half, the Czechs - in second spot in the group at the start of play - were happy to play a containing game. But a stoppage time Giorgos Karagounis goal for Greece in the other game meant that if there was no change in either game in the second half, the Czech Republic and the co-hosts would both be eliminated.

Eight minutes into the second half, the Czechs went close, but David Limbersky shot into the side netting. 

Czech Republic were close to grabbing a lead in the 65th minute. Plasil's inswinging free-kick to the far post was met by a downward header by Tomas Sivok, who was denied by a point blank save by Przemyslaw Tyton.

Three minutes later, Baros sent in a low long range low strike at Tyton, then Baros set up Jiracek, who cut in from the left and sent a low shot under Tyton. At that stage, Jiracek's goal meant the Czechs were going through as group winners ahead of Greece, condemning Russia in third spot.

Lewandowski saw his shot saved by Cech on 73 minutes, and the same player went close late on but his header was deflected wide.

Blaszczykowski almost snatched an equaliser for Poland in stoppage time. Had his shot found the net it would not have made any difference for Poland, but would have sent Russia not the Czechs through to the last eight. However, Jan Razek got his head to the ball to divert it wide.

Czech Republic: Cech, Gebre Selassie, Sivok, Kadlec, Limbersky, Hubschman, Plasil, Jiracek, Kolar, Pilar, Baros. Subs: Lastuvka, Suchy, Hubnik, Necid, Rezek, Rosicky, Petrzela, Rajtoral, Pekhart, Lafata, Darida, Drobny.

Poland: Tyton, Piszczek, Wasilewski, Perquis, Boenisch, Dudka, Polanski, Blaszczykowski, Murawski, Obraniak, Lewandowski. Subs: Szczesny, Wojtkowiak, Kaminski, Matuszczyk, Rybus, Wawrzyniak, Sobiech, Mierzejewski, Wolski, Grosicki, Brozek, Sandomierski.

By Mark Roach

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