England lose first tournament qualifier in 10 YEARS as their 43-game run comes to an end after slow and sloppy Three Lions throw away early lead to put Euro 2020 qualification on hold… for now 

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  • England have lost their first Euro 2020 qualifying match after Czech Republic came from behind to win 2-1
  • Gareth Southgate’s men were awarded an early penalty which Harry Kane converted to give England the lead
  • However, the scores were back level just four minutes later when defender Jakub Brabec headed in a corner
  • Zdenek Ondrasek then popped up to score the winning goal on his international debut in the 85th minute

Harry Maguire (centre), Michael Keane (left) and Declan Rice (right) cut dejected figures after tasting defeat on Friday night

Harry Maguire (centre), Michael Keane (left) and Declan Rice (right) cut dejected figures after tasting defeat on Friday night

Czech Republic's Zdenek Ondrasek (left) scores on his international debut to give his side a famous win against England

Czech Republic’s Zdenek Ondrasek (left) scores on his international debut to give his side a famous win against England

The 30-year-old capped off his international debut with the winning goal as Jordan Pickford (middle) can't prevent the goal

The 30-year-old capped off his international debut with the winning goal as Jordan Pickford (middle) can’t prevent the goal

Ondrasek celebrates scoring the winner to condemn England to their first tournament qualifying defeat in 10 years

Ondrasek celebrates scoring the winner to condemn England to their first tournament qualifying defeat in 10 years

Harry Kane (pictured) celebrates after giving England the lead inside four minutes at the Sinobo Stadium in Prague

Harry Kane (pictured) celebrates after giving England the lead inside four minutes at the Sinobo Stadium in Prague

Raheem Sterling won the penalty after he was fouled inside the area by Czech defender Lukas Masopust (centre left)

Raheem Sterling won the penalty after he was fouled inside the area by Czech defender Lukas Masopust (centre left) 

The England skipper put his spot-kick straight down the middle of the goal to give the Three Lions the lead early on in Prague

The England skipper put his spot-kick straight down the middle of the goal to give the Three Lions the lead early on in Prague

Kane calmly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to convert the penalty inside the opening five minutes on Friday evening

Kane calmly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to convert the penalty inside the opening five minutes on Friday evening

The England players celebrate with Kane after he gave his side the lead early on at the Sinobo Stadium to put them in control

The England players celebrate with Kane after he gave his side the lead early on at the Sinobo Stadium to put them in control

However, England's lead only lasted four minutes as Czech Republic defender Jakub Brabec headed in the equaliser

However, England’s lead only lasted four minutes as Czech Republic defender Jakub Brabec headed in the equaliser

Brabec celebrates scoring his side's first goal and the equaliser as England's players looked dejected after losing the lead

Brabec celebrates scoring his side’s first goal and the equaliser as England’s players looked dejected after losing the lead

The Czech centre-back Brabec (right) celebrates after scoring following a lively start to the Euro 2020 qualifier in Prague

The Czech centre-back Brabec (right) celebrates after scoring following a lively start to the Euro 2020 qualifier in Prague

This was a throwback performance from England and not in a good way. Too slow, too predictable and too easy to play against, qualification for next summer’s European Championships will have to wait.

If England are to prosper in a tournament they will play largely at Wembley, they will have to be a lot better than this. Home advantage will not get Gareth Southgate’s team very far if they play so meekly. 

Second best to a very modest Czech Republic team, a good side would have buried them. As it was England lost by a single goal and an unbeaten record in qualifying games going back 43 games and 10 years was gone. 

CZECH REPUBLIC: (4-2-3-1) Vaclik 6.5; Coufal 7, Celustka 7, Brabec 7.5, Boril 8.5; Soucek 7, Kral 8; Masopust 7.5 (Zmrhal 89), Darida 7, Jankto 6.5 (Kopic 83); Schick 6.5 (Ondrasek 65, 7.5)

SUBS NOT USED: Kolar (GK), Pavlenka (GK); Husbauer, Kalvach, Krejci, Reznik, Simic, Kudela, Krmencik

GOALS: Brabec (9), Ondrasek (85)

BOOKINGS: Jankto (9)

COACH: Jaroslav Silhavy 7.5

ENGLAND: (4-3-3) Pickford 7; Trippier 6, Keane 5.5, Maguire 6, Rose 5.5; J. Henderson 6, Rice 5.5 (Abraham 88), Mount 6 (Barkley 73); Sancho 6 (Rashford 73), Sterling 6.5, Kane 6.5

SUBS NOT USED: D. Henderson (GK), Pope (GK); Winks, Mings, Tomori, Chilwell, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold

GOALS: Kane (PEN 5)

BOOKINGS: Rose (10), Sterling (68), J. Henderson (90+2)

COACH: Gareth Southgate 6

REFEREE: Damir Skomina (Slovenia) 6

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jan Boril (Czech Republic)

VENUE: Sinobo Stadium

ATTENDANCE: 18,651

*Ratings done by Sami Mokbel in Prague

Given what has gone before in Group A and for much of Southgate’s tenure, we can forgive England a performance out of character in so many ways. If they beat Bulgaria on Monday we will see this as a blip.

Nevertheless, this was poor and should be viewed as a timely warning. Southgate had been asked on Thursday if his team would do a lap of honour if they secured qualification here. Maybe there is more to do than we – and indeed he – thought.

Before this game, we knew there were issues across the back four and they showed themselves again. Neither of the two Czech goals that followed Harry Kane’s early penalty reflected well on the England defence or indeed the midfield players detailed to protect them.

What we didn’t expect was that England should be so poor in possession. Under Southgate, this is an old habit they had finally shed, morphing England in to a dynamic attacking team, one that plays quickly and urgently. 

Here they were so far removed from this that exciting players like debutant Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho barely saw the ball. Mount’s night lasted 70 minutes and he will probably admit that the whole thing passed him by.

At no stage were England in charge of the game and that was unusual given that they had scored so freely thus far in the group. 

Even when Kane scored his penalty in the fifth minute, it was on the back of a breakaway. The Czechs almost fashioned a chance in the opening moments and that was an indication of what was to follow.

However when Kane did score his 27th international goal following Lukas Masopust’s anxious foul on Raheem Sterling, it did seem as though England would ease through another game entirely on their own terms. 

England had beaten the Czechs 5-0 at Wembley in March and maybe it was a sense of inevitability that caused Kane to celebrate his goal with such a gentle and reserved pump of his right fist.

This, after all, is what England do these days against average teams. They put the foot on the throat and don’t take it off until all life is gone. Not here. No, here they continued where they had left off in that harum-scarum 5-3 win over Kososvo in Southampton last month. 

Once again, England proved incapable of dictating how a game was played and in which areas. It is this, as much as the defeat, that should concern Southgate. Really good teams play big games on their own terms. International football is about control and here England never really had it.

The Czechs responded well to Kane’s goal and were level immediately. Jordan Pickford saved well from Vladimir Coufal’s cross-shot but was helpless when the resulting corner was allowed to pass right across goal where Jakub Brabec turned the ball in at the far post.

A shoddy goal to concede, it felt like a wake-up call, a reminder to England that there was another team on the field. It turned out to be much more than that. It was a pointer to the way the night would go, England never sure of themselves against a team prepared to play their football cleverly in the spaces between the visiting holding pair of Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice and the defence.

England did not shoot on goal again until the second half. The Czechs threatened regularly as Pickford saved from marauding left-back Jan Boril and striker Patrick Schick, that one a header from a free-kick. 

Southgate has problems with the Pickford/Maguire/Keane axis but here his whole team failed him. From front to back they were never sure-footed and the only real surprise what was that the Czechs took so long to claim what was rightfully theirs.

Southgate is not a passive coach and he tweaked his system to 4-3-3 at half-time. Credit to him, it did bring about some improvement. England saw more of the ball and Sterling may have scored when Kane played him through had goalkeeper Tomas Vacluick not palmed the ball clear as he dashed from goal.

Still, though, the Czech Republic enjoyed the better chances. Pickford saved spectacularly from Masopurst and at his near post from Alex Kral, the latter feeling as though it had probably secured England a point.

But with five minutes left, England got themselves in a mess in their own half and when Danny Rose lost the ball under pressure the Czechs swept down the right and crossed for 30-year-old substitute Zdenek Ondrasek to score from 10 yards on his international debut.

For the home team’s hopes of qualifying, this was a significant result. It should not prove to be so for England. Southgate and his players have credit and points in the bank. This should hurt them, though, because it was a performance every bit as limp and undeserving as it looks, feels and sounds.



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