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ENGLAND SLIP TO FIRST QUALIFYING DEFEAT IN 10 YEARS

Written by on October 12, 2019

ENGLAND SLIP TO FIRST QUALIFYING DEFEAT IN 10 YEARS

England fell to their first qualifying defeat in a decade as debutant Zdenek Ondrasek secured the Czech Republic a deserved 2-1 victory

The Three Lions arrived in Prague knowing victory would assure progress to Euro 2020 with three matches to spare – and few expected anything other than an away win given the 5-0 shellacking handed out to the Czechs at Wembley in March’s Group A opener at Wembley.

Expectation grew with Harry Kane’s early spot-kick, only for Jakub Brabec to quickly bring the Czech Republic level and provide the platform for substitute Ondrasek to punish a ponderous England performance and seal a shock 2-1 win.

It ended a 43-match unbeaten run in Euro and World Cup qualifying matches stretching back to a 1-0 loss in Ukraine in October 2009 – and was a result Southgate’s men could hardly argue with.

After Kane opened the scoring in the fifth minute, England looked lacklustre in attack and susceptible at the back as the alarming defending in last month’s 5-3 win against Kosovo was repeated.

Brabec was all too easily able to level from a ninth-minute corner as the Czechs played with confidence throughout the first half and kicked on after the break at a bouncing Sinobo Stadium.

Jordan Pickford was having a far busier night in Prague than he will have expected and was beaten five minutes from time by debutant Ondrasek – a gut punch that will not derail Euro 2020 qualification but raises big questions.

England will try to make amends in Bulgaria on Monday, when changes can be expected from the side that faltered here.

Southgate handed Mason Mount his first international start, but he resisted too much experimentation in Prague, where it looked like this would be another cakewalk after Raheem Sterling raced through and cutback to draw a challenge from Lukas Masopust.

Referee Damir Skomina pointed to the spot and Kane stepped up to send Tomas Vaclik the wrong way in the fifth minute – a lead that did not last long as Pickford’s calls for concentration fell on deaf ears after he impressively stopped Vladimir Coufal.

Jakub Jankto swung in a corner and Ondrej Celustka directed it on for Brabec, who bundled home at the far post to send the Sinobo Stadium crowd wild four minutes after falling behind.

Published: 12/10/2019 by Radio NewsHub