On the same day tens of thousands lined up to mourn Czech singer Karel Gott at Prague’s Žofín Palace, the Czech national football team handed England a surprise 2-1 loss in a qualifier match for the group A 2020 European Cup today.
The loss was England’s first in qualifying play in 10 years and 44 matches, and a shock to an estimated 10,000 English football fans visiting Prague to see the game.
Before the game, England’s fans were involved in violent clashes with police in Prague, throwing bottles towards officers in riot gear and receiving stun grenades in return.
Prague police arrested 31 in connection with the football-related violence.
In March at London’s Wembley Stadium, England topped the Czech National Team 5-0. Last night in Prague, however, the Czech team managed a different result in a hard-fought rematch.
As Karel Gott’s music blared on the loudspeakers throughout the game, the Czech team fought tooth and nail to stun their opponent.
England took a quick 1-0 lead after a goal by Harry Kane on a penalty shot five minutes in. Jakub Brabec quickly tied up the game four minutes later, and the score stood at 1-1 for the next hour-plus of play.
But with five minutes left to go in the match, Czech substitution Zdeněk Ondrášek, who plays professionally for Dallas in the US Major League Soccer, scored the game-winner.
The defeat was a shock to England fans that included Prince William, who caught the game at London’s Prince Albert Pub:
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Imagine if we talked about mental health as much as we talk about football. Prince William and @ChelseaFC Head Coach @FrankLampard joined football fans to watch England’s match with the Czech Republic ⚽️🍻 and discuss the importance of encouraging more people – particularly men – to feel comfortable talking about their mental health, and feel able to support their friends and families. Men are less likely than women to speak about their mental health (41% for men in comparison with 56% for women), and suicide remains the biggest killer of men under 45. The simple act of starting a conversation can often be the start of a more positive future. Each of the fans in the pub with The Duke and Frank to watch #CZEENG has been supported by @mindcharity and @calmzone – and were joined by someone who has supported them through difficult times in the past. Football is a powerful way for men to have a conversation about how they are feeling, whether it is watching a game with their mates or having a kick around with friends or teammates – through Heads Up we want to help everyone feel as comfortable talking about mental health as they are talking football. For immediate support 🇬🇧📱 text ‘Heads Up’ to 85258 any time of day or night to be connected with a trained @GiveUsAShoutInsta volunteer to talk about what you’re going through, and help make a plan to keep yourself safe 📷 Kensington Palace / PA #HeadsUp @heads_together @england
But it lives up to an unusual statistic for England’s football team in the Czech capital.
England’s national team hasn’t won a game against the Czech national team in Prague since 1908, before the existence of the Czech Republic or Czechoslovakia, when they topped Bohemia 4-0.
The win secures a spot in the 2020 UEFA European Championships for the Czech national team.
England can still qualify if it tops Bulgaria on Monday and Kosovo also falls to Montenegro.