Czech Republic 2, England 1
England’s 43 game unbeaten run in competitive World Cup or European Championship qualifiers was ended after 30-year-old debutant Zdenek Ondrasek scored a late winner for the Czech Republic.Embed from Getty Images
Harry Kane had scored a 5th minute penalty but England saw it quickly cancelled out after their hosts equalised within 4 minutes through Jakub Brabec and they were hit by a late Czech winner for 30-year-old debutant Ondrasek.
Gareth Southgate’s side were second best throughout as they missed the chance to qualify for Euro 2020, instead seeing the Czechs join them on 12 points at the top of Group A after inflicting a first qualifying defeat since a 1-0 reverse to Ukraine on October 10, 2009.
England’s overly cautious midfield double pivot of Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice lacked imagination against their hosts who were much the better side for most of this match against an England side still crying out for a creative player in the midfield engine room.
Chelsea’s Mason Mount was handed his full England with Ross Barkley stepping down, while Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose came in for Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Chilwell as Southgate made three changes from the side that beat Kosovo.
The defensive frailties that threatened to derail that game came back to roost in Prague, though, as England crashed to defeat against the Czechs.
Southgate continued with a front line of Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling either side of captain Harry Kane and they started on the right foot.
Kane scored from the penalty spot after five minutes after Raheem Sterling’s change of direction in the box saw him tripped by Lukas Masopust with just 5 minutes on the clock.
Harry Kane scores first but disorganised England lose to Czech Republic
The England captain sent his spot kick straight down the middle as Tomas Vaclik dived to his right.
But the Czech Republic were soon back on level terms after they pressurised England’s defence and quickly took control of possession.
Jakub Brabec scored after Ondrej Celustka helped on a Jakub Jankto corner into his fellow defender’s path and he swept the ball home from 2 yards out with just 9 minutes gone as England’s poor marking let them down.
England could have conceded either side of that goal with Vladimir Coufal’s shot saved by Jordan Pickford while Patrik Schick headed over the bar although Jan Boril’s long range shot was tame as the hosts racked up the chances.
It took almost half an hour after Kane’s penalty for England to fashion another chance, with Kane’s shot blocked and Mount unable to profit from the loose ball.
By this time, their hosts were taking their foot off the gas but still had enough in the tank for Masopust to fire wide from Schick’s cross.
In total, the Czech Republic racked up 10 first half shots on the England goal – on par with Spain in October last year – with four on target in the first half – only the second time in their last 78 matches that they had faced 10 shots in the first half.
England were more attacking in the second half, with Henderson a more forward looking player alongside Mount.
But there was still a frustrating lack of invention for England who improved far too slowly to threaten their hosts.
And Pickford had to palm away Masopust’s looping shot on the hour mark with a flying save as though a reminder was needed that they were in a game.
Southgate made a double change after 72 minutes, with Ross Barkley and Marcus Rashford replacing Mount and Jadon Sancho.
Vladimir Darida appealed for a penalty against Rose, and Alex Kral brought another fine save out of Pickford as the Czechs continued to press.
Czech debutant Ondrasek capped off a memorable game with his first shot to score his first goal for his country, converting Masopust’s cut back inside Pickford’s near post from 8 yards out.
Rose, who will miss Monday’s game with Bulgaria after collecting his third booking of the campaign, seemed to be fouled in the build-up.
Tammy Abraham was quickly thrown on for the last 2 minutes for Rice but England couldn’t fashion another chance in Prague.
MATCH STATS – Czech Republic 2, England 1
Czech Republic: Vaclik, Coufal, Celustka, Brabec, Boril, Soucek, Kral, Masopust (Zmrhal 90), Darida, Jankto (Kopic 83), Schick (Ondrasek 65)
Goals: Brabec 9, Ondrasec 85
England: Pickford, Trippier, Keane, Maguire, Rose, Henderson, Rice (Abraham 88), Sancho (Rashford 72), Mount (Barkley 72), Sterling, Kane
Booked: Rose, Sterling, Henderson
Goal: Kane 5 pen
Referee: Damir Skomina