England suffered defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic in their Group A Euro 2020 qualifier.
Victory would have secured England’s place in the tournament, but the defeat now leaves them having to wait a little longer.
It was definitely not supposed to be this way.
This was thought to be a simple day at the office for Gareth Southgate’s star-studded England team.
While Southgate fielded a young side, on paper the opponents should not have been in with a sniff of getting a result, never mind a victory.
The start was perfect, five minutes on the clock, Raheem Sterling was brought down inside the 18-yard box.
Up stepped Mr. Reliable, Harry Kane. The Tottenham man made no mistake cooly slotting the ball home from 12 yards out.
Five minutes on the clock:
The Czech Republic 0 – 1 England.
The goal did nothing to help the Three Lions, as the home side went on the attack. Within four minutes of them taking the lead, the Czechs made four attempts to score.
There were some last-ditch efforts to block, as well as some heroics from Jordan Pickford.
However, at the fifth time of asking, Jakub Brabec made no mistake and buried the ball in the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.
9 minutes gone:
The Czech Republic 1 – 1 England.
The quick response saw the partisan Prague crowd encouraged and this reverberated to their team.
The volume going up a few decibels only helped the hosts grow in confidence and gain momentum in the game.
The Czechs kept on attacking, with attempts from Soucek, Schick, Darida, and Masopust raining down on the England goal in the first half.
Fortunately for the visitors, their shooting boots were not on.
An attempt by Schick in the 41st minute was thwarted by another fine piece of handy work from Jordan Pickford.
England had a couple of timid efforts, over the half but nothing that troubled the keeper.
The hosts were in control and eager to take advantage of their ability to overrun the passive England midfield.
Half-time: The Czech Republic 1 – 1 England.
The second half was much of the same, as the shots rained down in the vicinity of Pickford’s goal, but nothing of any serious quality.
An Attacking trio of Sancho, Sterling, and Kane, should have struck fear in the hearts of any opposition.
But the front three were starved of service. Rice, Mount, and Henderson were mere spectators in the game.
It was not until the 64th minute, that Kane registered England’s first shot of the second half.
While it brought about a save from Tomas Vaclik, it was still a poor showing from the Group A leaders.
Gareth Southgate tried to re-energize his side.
He substituted the ineffective Mount and Sancho and replaced them with experienced if out of form Barkley and Rashford respectively.
Rashford showed the same timid form he has displayed of late for Manchester United.
Barkley did not fair much better, except for a solitary though ball, which provided a chance for Kane, who made the shot an easy save for the keeper.
Englands complacency was eventually punished by a hungrier more decisive underdog.
The 85th minute saw Zdenek Ondrasek’s right footed shot from the centre of the box go straight in the bottom right-hand corner.
Goal for The Czech Republic! The hosts lead 2-1.
Even with the last-ditch attempt from England to throw on the inform Tammy Abraham, only the Czech’s managed another attempt on goal.
Final score: The Czech Republic 2 – 1 England.
The result sees a 43 game unbeaten run in tournament qualifiers come to an end for England.
In all honesty, the writing has been on the wall since there 5-3 win over Kosovo, which can only be described as utter pandemonium.
The Three Lions are still well in control of their own destiny, and a result against Bulgaria on Monday will still cement a place at Euro 2020.
This, however, will only give confidence to other teams who come up against this England side.
They obviously still have some way to go to be taken seriously as contenders for any kind of title.
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Fantastic performance and even better result! 🇨🇿 2-1 🏴 pic.twitter.com/FPybUblhcp
— Czech Football Team (@ceskarepre_eng) October 11, 2019