Czechs draw with Croatia in flare-hit match

MNA Sports Desk: Czechs draw with Croatia in flare-hit match in Euro 2016. A 94th-minute penalty saved a point for the Czech Republic in their dramatic 2-2 draw with Croatia as flares thrown onto the pitch marred Friday’s Euro 2016 match.

With Croatia 2-1 up and with one foot in the last 16, referee Mark Clattenberg fleetingly stopped play late in the game when flares thrown by Croatian supporters landed on the pitch in Saint-Etienne.

CroatiaCroatia defender Domagoj Vida was penalized for handball and Tomas Necid drilled home the resulting penalty, deep in added time, to claim their first point in Group D. European football’s governing body UEFA are composed to execute additional sanctions on the Croatian Football Federation for the crowd trouble.

Croatia were exposed of one point in qualifying, forced to play two home matches behind closed doors and fined 100,000 euros by UEFA after a swastika was painted on the field before a match against Italy in June 2015 in Split.

An associate of the ground staff at the Stade Geoffrey Guichard seemed to have been hit by a flash. Hits were also seen being thrown on the terraces amongst Croatian supporters in the chaos of the final stages.

“I must say the pause due to their fans helped us. They were in control at that time and they suddenly lost rhythm and we could capitalize on that. We regained composure and although they had some counter-attacks (before the pause), from that moment on they didn’t have anything.” said Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Croatia cruising towards the last 16 after their two Ivans—Rakitic and Perisic—netted either side of the break. Czech having beaten Turkey 1-0 in their opener at the European championship finals, Croatia seemed to have their second win in the bag.

But Czech replacement Milan Skoda pulled one back before fellow replacement Necid’s dramatic spot-kick. Captain Darijo Srna took his place at right-back after returning from father’s funeral back in Croatia and shed a few tears during his country’s anthem in an emotional start to a tense encounter.

Striker Mario Mandzukic had a field day playing in front of Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, whose striking volley made all three points against Turkey, while Barcelona’s Rakitic covered a good display with his goal.

Croatia took the lead on 37 minutes after a mistake in the Czech midfield. Jaroslav Plasil lost the ball and Croatia’s Milan Badelj broken up control on the halfway line to quickly feed Perisic.

The 27-year-old Inter Milan winger attacked the Czech area, wrong-footed defender Thomas Sivok and curled his shot past Cech on 37 minutes. It was 1-0 at the break and Croatia doubled their lead when Brozovic fed Rakitic inside the area.

The attacking midfielder’s classy chip gave Cech no chance as it hit the net on 59 minutes. Only a fine Cech save prevented a third before Mandzukic fired over shortly after and Modric went off on 62 minutes struggling with an injury with his side in control.

But Skoda proved there was still some life in the Czech engine when he managed to put some power into his header from Tomas Rosicky’s cross on 76 minutes.

The flares then began to fall, briefly halting the game and leading to nine minutes of extra time, which gave the Czechs the chance to equalize against a distracted Croatian defense.


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