England lose first tournament qualifier in 10 years as Czech Republic come from behind in Prague

England lose first tournament qualifier in 10 years as Czech Republic stun Three Lions
A sub-par England side endured a miserable evening, losing 2-1 (Picture: Getty)

England were stunned by Czech Republic on Friday night in Prague as they suffered their first tournament qualifying defeat in 10 years on a hugely frustrating night for Gareth Southgate’s side.

The Three Lions had won their previous four matches in Group A – one of just four teams with a 100% record – and could have booked their place in Euro 2020 with a win.

However, despite taking an early lead, England conceded late on as their opponents joined them on 12 points and inflicted a first defeat in either a European Championship or World Cup qualifier since Ukraine in 2009, an astonishing 44 games ago.

England lose first tournament qualifier in 10 years as Czech Republic stun Three Lions
Zdenek Ondrasek, who grabbed the winner, was making his international debut (Picture: Getty)

It looked like it would be another easy night for Southgate’s men when they were awarded a penalty inside the first five minutes, having racked up 19 goals in their previous outings.

Raheem Sterling was brought down inside the box and Harry Kane duly dispatched the penalty, equalling Frank Lampard’s record of most penalties scored for England.

He kept his cool to fire down the middle of the goal and has now scored nine times from the spot, taking his tally of international goals to 27 – joint 12th in the all-time rankings alongside David Platt.

But England were pegged back almost immediately through defender Jakub Brabec, who latched onto a flick-on from a corner and tapped in at the far post.

England struggled to keep possession in a scrappy first-half affair, while their defence looked vulnerable throughout.

Southgate’s side improved in the second half, though found it difficult to break down a stubborn Czech rearguard and lacked a spark of creativity.

Kane almost provided it, sending a clever through-ball in behind for Sterling who couldn’t quite round the keeper, and then the Spurs frontman failed to connect cleanly with a dinked cross into the box.

England lose first tournament qualifier in 10 years as Czech Republic stun Three Lions
England never really got going in a poor performance in Prague (Picture: Getty)

Ross Barley’s introduction prompted a slight improvement and this time it was Kane’s turn to spurn a one-on-one, with the hosts punishing that profligacy with a hammer blow of their own.

Zdenek Ondrasek – who came on as a substitute to make his debut at the age of 30 – had already threatened in behind once and made no mistake when he was given a second opportunity in the 85th minute.

Danny Rose lost a header, the Czech attack surged down the gap he had left on the right flank and crossed for Ondrasek to tuck home and spark wild scenes in Prague, while England still have plenty of work to do to qualify.

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