RIGA: Czech Republic qualified for Euro 2016 as one of the top two teams from Group A after surviving a late fightback to beat hosts Latvia 2-1 on Sunday, joining England as early qualifiers. David Limbersky and Vladimir Darida scored the first-half goals that lifted the Czechs to 19 points, out of the reach of third-placed Turkey (12) and the Netherlands (10) with two matches to play next month. Iceland, on 18 points, can claim a berth later on Sunday with at least a draw when they host bottom-placed Kazakhstan. The Czechs finished nervously amid a late rally from Latvia, who pulled a goal back through Arturs Zjurzins with 17 minutes left and then gallantly tried to find an equaliser. But it was the Czechs' early dominance that laid the platform for success with two goals inside the first half hour. Limbersky’s opening goal came after 13 minutes at the end of a smart short-corner routine with a powerful shot from close range as Latvia’s defence was caught napping. Darida drove home a shot from the edge of the penalty area to double the lead. Latvia rarely threatened until Zjurzins turned inside the Czech defence and had a chance right in front of goal in the 35th minute but saw his effort brilliantly parried away by Petr Cech, brought into action for the first time. The Czech captain also foiled a touch on by Igors Tarasovs from a dangerous free kick just before the hour mark but was beaten by Zjurzins’s effort in the 73rd minute. Latvia were applauded off for their late efforts as the relieved Czechs celebrated in front of their 300 travelling fans as they booked their place at the finals in France next year. “The key point in qualification was the fact we were able to win our first four matches in a row," said Czech coach Pavel Vrba. "It was a huge starting point to beat both the Dutch and Turkey, who were the strongest teams in the group.
Czechs beat Latvia to qualify for Euro 2016
The Himalayan Times
Published: 01:02 pm Sep 07, 2015