Jakub Brabec (left) celebrates scoring against England.
Czech Mate
England denied Euro 2020 qualification after brilliant Czech comeback win
A dream international debut for Zdenek Ondrasek, who came off the bench to seal a famous night in Prague.

ZDENEK ONDRASEK CAME off the bench on his international debut to earn the Czech Republic a 2-1 win at home to England, denying the Three Lions qualification for Euro 2020.

Harry Kane’s fifth-minute penalty – the England captain’s 27th international goal – put Gareth Southgate’s side in front early on, yet the hosts hit back within five minutes.

Centre-back Jakub Brabec profited on slack set-piece marking to level the scores and, as the game appeared to be drifting towards a draw, the Czech Republic struck again.

With five minutes to go, Lukas Masopust raided down the right and pulled a low cross back for 30-year-old striker Ondrasek, who confidently beat Jordan Pickford to snatch all three points.

Kane missed from the spot against Kosovo last month but he converted a fifth-minute penalty in Prague.

Raheem Sterling’s darting run down the left was ended by Masopust’s clumsy trip and Kane fired the resulting spot-kick down the middle, though the hosts soon drew level.

A corner found Brabec at the back post with Declan Rice having slipped and the defender bundled home his first international goal, beating Danny Rose on the line.

Goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik was quickly off his line to prevent Sterling rounding him in the 57th minute, then Jordan Pickford was called into action to acrobatically deny Masopust.

Alex Kral forced another good save from Pickford in the closing stages but England did not heed the warning, Ondrasek slamming home with his first shot in international football.

A perfect record in the group put England on the brink of qualification, but they have work to do after a poor defensive performance at Eden Arena.

With four wins from their past five qualifiers, the Czech Republic are in good shape to finish in the top two, having moved level on points with England, though next month’s visit of third-placed Kosovo still looks likely to be a key game.

England had not lost either a World Cup or European Championship qualifier since 2009 — an impressive run of 43 matches — and could have become the second team to qualify for Euro 2020 tonight, but they could not argue with a deserved defeat.

Southgate’s side will look to bounce back when they go away to Bulgaria on Monday, the same day Jaroslav Silhavy’s charges host Northern Ireland in a friendly.

Andy Dunne and Murray Kinsella join Gavan Casey to preview Ireland-Samoa, and discuss the utter farce of the World Cup falling foul of Typhoon Hagibis.

The42 Rugby Weekly / SoundCloud

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