Czechs pull off 'small miracle', move to Nations League Group A with victory over Slovakia

The Czechs needed victory over Slovakia and a Scotland loss to Israel to advance.

Tom Lane

Written by Tom Lane Published on 19.11.2020 08:41 (updated on 19.11.2020) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Republic Men’s National Football team secured promotion from their Nations League group after beating Slovakia 2-0 at Plzen’s Doosan Arena.

West Ham United midfielder Tomáš Souček and Viktoria Plzeň forward Zdeněk Ondrášek scored for the home side to secure victory and top position in Group B2.

The team needed a win and required Scotland to draw or lose away to Israel to secure top spot, with the Scots losing 1-0.

Coach Jaroslav Šilhavý called the result a “small miracle” after Covid-19 forced the Czech Republic to field a weaker team against Scotland early on in the group stage, a game they lost 2-1 in Olomouc.

He said: "Is it a small miracle? Exactly. What we went through this fall was unbelievable. Even after all the vicissitudes we've had at each meeting, we've made progress."

“Everyone who took part deserves a big thanks. Of course, the players, the implementation team and the organizational staff who solved the problems that arose with the pandemic.”

Winning the group means that should the Czech Republic fail to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar they could enter a play-off tournament and get a second opportunity to do so.

How winning might lead to a World Cup play-off:

According to the UEFA website, the ten group runners-up from the World Cup qualification that is yet to get underway, will be joined by the two best group winners of the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League overall ranking that have neither qualified directly for the final tournament as European Qualifiers group winners, nor entered the play-offs already as European Qualifiers group runners-up. These 12 teams will be drawn into three play-off paths for one-off semi-finals and a final. The three path winners qualify for the World Cup.

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Promotion means they will be placed in Group A for the next Nations League tournament and could face countries such as Belgium, France or England.

It’s been a good week for the Czech Republic football team at the expense of Scotland, with their under-21 team also securing top spot in their group at the expense of their Scottish counterparts, qualifying for the U21 European Championships next year.

The two teams will meet in Glasgow at Euro 2020 next summer after Scotland beat Serbia on penalties last month.

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