Czechs battle back for unlikely draw

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The Czech Republic kept their Euro 2016 hopes alive as they came from two goals down to clinch a 2-2 draw with Croatia at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Friday.

  • Czech Republic 2 Croatia 2
  • Perisic gives Croats the lead
  • Rakitic doubles their advantage
  • Skoda pulls one back with header
  • Necid equalises from penalty spot

Match Summary

Ante Cacic's side looked to be coasting along in this Group D encounter following goals either side of the half-time break from Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic.

But Milan Skoda halved the deficit with a well-placed header 14 minutes from time and the trend of late goals at the European Championship continued when Tomas Necid equalised from the penalty spot in stoppage time to secure a share of the spoils for the Czechs.

Full Report

Vatreni controlled proceedings from the start and they threatened after just two minutes when a looping header from Perisic was tipped over the crossbar by Petr Cech following Darijo Srna's delivery on the right.

The Czechs gave Marcelo Brozovic far too much space just outside the area on seven minutes, but he failed to punish them with a weak effort that was easily gathered by Cech, who saw Milan Badelj drag a shot wide from 19 yards out moments later.

Croatia were asking all the questions and Ivan Rakitic blasted over from just inside the box after being teed up by Brozovic's cross on the right on 21 minutes.

Ivan Strinic failed to test Cech with a long-range strike seven minutes later after the keeper had parried the ball into his path from a corner.

Cech was called into action again on 37 minutes as Croatia broke away on the counter, with Rakitic playing a one-two with Mario Mandzukic before running into the area and cutting inside, but his shot was blocked by the Arsenal shot-stopper.

However, Cacic's men were celebrating the lead seconds later when Perisic won possession just inside the opposition half and carried the ball into the penalty area before unleashing a shot that flew past Cech and nestled into the far corner.

Vedran Corluka almost doubled their lead just before the break after he got on the end of Rakitic's free-kick, but the defender steered the ball wide of the keeper's left post.

The Czechs finally created their first chance early in the second half, with Ladislav Krejci hooking the ball towards goal from a weak clearance, but his shot lacked power and Danijel Subasic made a comfortable save.

They conceded a second goal three minutes later, however, and Cech was the guilty party, as his poor goal-kick gifted possession to Brozovic, who played Rakitic in on goal, allowing him to clip the ball over the advancing keeper and extend Croatia's lead. 

Mandzukic was a fraction away from making it 3-0 on 67 minutes after David Limbersky guided the ball into his path in an attempt to cut out a defence-splitting pass, but the striker side-footed the ball just over the crossbar.

However, Czech Republic gave themselves hope with a goal out of nothing on 76 minutes when Tomas Rosicky delivered the ball into the area with the outside of his boot and Skoda climbed above his marker to steer the ball into the top corner.

Brozovic almost restored his team's two-goal cushion on 80 minutes after being teed up by Rakitic inside the area, but his shot was deflected wide by Roman Hubnik.

The game was held up towards the end after flares were launched onto the pitch, and there was more drama to follow when the action got back under way as the Czechs won a penalty for a handball on Domagoj Vida.

Tomas Necid stepped up and drilled the ball straight down the middle into the back of the net to clinch the unlikeliest of draws.