The Czech Republic pushed past Poland 1-0 to qualify for the quarter-finals along with Greece, who incredibly knocked Russia out.
Both sides still had a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals from a wide-open Group A, as the Czech Republic had three points to Poland’s two. The hosts were unchanged from the side that drew with Russia, ignoring goalkeeper Wojciech Szcezsny despite the end of his suspension, while the Czechs lost Tomas Rosicky to injury, bringing in Daniel Kolar under the pouring rain.
Vaclav Pilar horribly wasted a great chance after three minutes, scuffing his shot when unmarked from 12 yards. Poland also threatened, Dariusz Dudka’s overhead kick, a Ludovic Obraniak set piece and Robert Lewandowski counter-attack all hit the side-netting.
Milan Baros sprung the offside trap, but couldn’t quite reach the pass over the top at full stretch when one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Before the break Przemyslaw Tyton needed two attempts to control a Pilar solo effort.
At half-time the other game had Greece leading Russia 1-0, so as things stood both the Czechs and Poles would go out.
The Czech Republic dominated from the start of the second half and pinned Poland back on their own turf, going extremely close on 65 minutes when a free kick found the head of Tomas Sivok and Tyton parried from point-blank range.
Milan Baros fired straight at the goalkeeper, but the Czechs finally saw the pressure pay off. Poland gave the ball away in the opposite half and were caught on the counter-attack by Baros, who rolled set up Petr Jiracek for a smart touch to step inside Marcin Wasilewski and drill past the goalkeeper.
Dudka acrobatically hooked a free kick off the head of Baros, then at the other end Jiracek bravely used his head to parry a Lukasz Piszczek screamer.
In stoppages Michal Kadlec kept the Czechs in the tournament with a desperate goalline clearance after Jakub Blaszczykowski spun his marker on the edge of the box and chipped Petr Cech. It was an astounding intervention and one that secured his nation’s place in the quarter-finals.
Greece also went through in second place after beating Russia 1-0 in a shock result.
Czech Republic 1-0 Poland
Scorers: Jiracek 72 (C)
Czech Republic: Cech; Gebre Selassie, Sivok, M Kadlec, Limbersky; Hubschman, Plasil; Jiracek (Rajtoral 84), Kolar, Pilar (Rezek 88); Baros (Pekhart 91)
Poland: Tyton; Piszczek, Wasilewski, Perquis, Boenisch; Dudka, Polanski (Grosicki 56); Blaszczykowski, Murawski (Mierzejewski 73), Obraniak (Brozek 73); Lewandowski
Ref: Thomson (Sco)