Czech Republic made sure
of a place at the Euro 2012 finals after beating Montenegro 1-0
away in the second leg of their play-off on Tuesday thanks to a
late goal from Petr Jiracek.
The Czechs, who qualified 3-0 on aggregate, were content to
defend their 2-0 first-leg lead and were not really troubled
until the second half when Montenegro stepped up the pressure
and could have easily scored three goals.
Czech coach Michal Bilek said his team had expected
Montenegro to come out strong and praised his opponents for a
number of attacks in the second half that almost turned the
"We knew they were good on offense," Bilek told Czech
television. "We deserved to qualify."
Montenegro, aiming to qualify for their first international
tournament since splitting with Serbia, had a number of chances
to get back into the tie.
Juventus striker Mirko Vucinic headed over the bar late in
the second half and missed again minutes later when Chelsea
goalkeeper Petr Cech was able to save both his shot and the
Cech, who was wearing a specially-designed mask after
breaking his nose, made a number of sprawling saves including
one from Dejan Damjanovic early in the second half whose shot he
appeared to just nudge onto the crossbar.
Montenegro dominated the second half but Pilzen's Petr
Jiracek put the game beyond reach in the 81st minute when he
split two defenders and side-footed a shot that Montenegro
goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic could only deflect into the net.
The Czechs, who won the European Championships in 1976,
qualified for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine after
finishing runners-up to Spain in group play.
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