Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech said it was a “huge disappointment” to crash out of Euro 2016 after losing 2-0 to Turkey and finishing fourth in Group D on Tuesday.
With both sides needing a win to retain hopes of advancing, Turkey took the lead early in the first half through Burak Yilmaz and Ozan Tufan ended Czech hopes in the 66th minute.
Cech, 34, said his team knew their opening games against Spain and Croatia would be difficult, thereby making the final test crucial.
“It’s a huge disappointment for us because prior to the tournament, we knew that we wanted to have at least one point after the first two games to have a chance to fight for qualification against Turkey in the last game,” Cech said.
“We managed to get a point against Croatia and today, before the game, we were in the position we wanted to be in — we wanted to have the chance to win the game and go through. Unfortunately, we couldn’t score a goal and that made the difference in this game.
Czech Republic midfielder Vladimir Darida echoed his goalkeeper’s thoughts and said Yilmaz’s 10-minute opener undid their tactics.
“I feel very down about it all. Nobody wanted to go home after three matches,” he said. “We did not start well and were quite unlucky to concede a goal early on, which we did not want. Our plan was to keep the score at 0-0 as long as possible.
“We knew Turkey needed to win, and we were hoping the game would get more open, and we would have more chances. But we conceded the goal, and we tried catching up.
“We had some good attempts, but we did not manage to score, and that decided the match.
“The second half was the same as the first; we conceded a goal, and that always sets you back when you have a different plan. The goal ruins it all.”
Despite his team’s early exit, Czech Republic coach Pavel Vrba said he hoped Croatia benefitted from their experience in France.
“The opposition scored more goals than us — that’s what went wrong. They scored two goals, and the first one really influenced the match,” Vrba said.
“We didn’t use the ball very well; we couldn’t break up play in midfield, then the opposition counter-attacked and scored. We had chances in the first half, but we couldn’t take them.
“In the second half, we tried to play more directly — with two strikers. However, we lost the centre of the pitch, and the ‘now or never’ style we deployed against Croatia didn’t work this time. We weren’t able to finish the match with a more acceptable scoreline.
“I’m very happy to have qualified for the tournament. I’m glad that many players have learned that the pace of international matches is a bit different to the pace at club level.
“These matches are entirely different to league games. For some players, this could be something to learn from ahead of the upcoming qualifiers. I hope we all learn a lot from this.”
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