11th October 2019 Czech Republc 2 England 1 Euro 2020 qualifier


England lose a main tournament qualifier for the first time in ten years.

This defeat in Prague could serve as a wake-up call for Gareth Southgate's team who are not quite as good as they thought they were.

England will undoubtedly qualify for the Euro 2020 finals and will surely benefit from playing a number of matches at Wembley next year.

Possibly including a home semi-final.

But in Prague they lacked fluency, an inability to create chances and showed a worrying weakness in defence.

That was after they began with typical assurance when Harry Kane confidently converted a penalty past Vaclik in the home goal within five minutes of the start.

It was a break from one of Manchester City current stars, Raheem Sterling, that setup the award of that spot kick.

So far so good for the Three Lions.

But either through complacency or lack of concentration England never reached the heights afterwards.

And within four more minutes a corner was poorly defended and Plzen's Jakub Blabec was allowed to poke in the leveller from close range.

As the match progressed it became clear that English youngsters such as Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho were finding it tough to have an impact.

There was little fluency and very limited creativity between the different parts of the England eleven.

Though Sterling and Kane would have half chances this was way below the expected level from recent England performances.

And it needed a solid effort from goalie Jordan Pickford to keep them in the game illustrated by his second-half save from Masopust.

But ultimately they would pay the price when debutant Dallas FC striker Zdenek Ondrasek crowned a late substitute appearance by driving home a cross with five minutes remaining.

The space he had in the area starkly highlighted the weakness in the English defence.

So the Czechs would temporarily join England at the top of qualifying Group A.

Time will tell if Gareth Southgate can to some extent rectify these issues by June 2020 (bearing in mind much harder tests would be forthcoming)

But not for the first time it seems likely another tournament exit at the quarter-final of maybe semi-final stage beckons.


report & analysis - John Bethell





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