It was a scrappy match, not helped by an awful referee, and if truth be told a draw would have been a fair result. Instead, Slovakia have triumphed 2-1 over their closest rivals and qualification for the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa is beginning to look more and more likely with every match!
Czech are a shadow of the team they were even two years ago, but nonetheless they had home advantage and started the match as strong favourites. However, it was soon clear that playing in Prague didn’t appear to hold much advantage over their Slovak cousins. If the 4-0 defeat to England at Wembley on Saturday had dented Slovakia’s confidence in any way, it certainly didn’t show and they began the game looking like the team that wanted it the most.
As a spectacle the game was pretty dire until midway through the second half, despite a goal apiece from Stanislav Sestak after 23 minutes and Zdenek Grygera on the half hour mark. The constant stop start for niggly fouls didn’t help, neither did a lack of technique, but the game suddenly came to life when the Czech’s hit the upright with a superb curling effort.
It was one of those shots that you just can’t believe didn’t go in and it was probably the lucky break that Slovakia needed. The match then looked to be heading for a draw, until Erik Jendrisek grabbed the winner for Slovakia seven minutes from time.
The three points put Slovakia on 12 out of a possible 15 and in pole position to qualify. Meanwhile, the Czechs look as good as out of it at the half way stage. If Slovakia win their game in hand at home to San Marino they will go 7 points clear of their rivals, which will likely prove unassailable.