Czech Republic

1-5

England

Doskova 28

 

Westwood 61, K Smith 79, 86, Carney 81, J Scott 83,


UEFA 2009 European Women's Championship Qualifier
2pm, Sunday 28 September
Ďolíček Stadium, Bohemians FC, Prague


England are within touching distance of the European Championship finals in Finland next year after running out 5-1 winners in Prague, needing just a point from their final game with Spain on Thursday.

Hope Powell's players had to show their character though in a true game of two halves, with Czech Republic leading at half-time after a disappointing performance from the visitors.

But a stunning equaliser from half-time substitute Emily Westwood, and four goals in seven minutes late on wrapped up a sensational response and will mean that England travel to Zamora - where they face Spain on Thursday evening - filled with confidence.

Karen Carney had the first chance after just two minutes, stealing in front of Pivonkova the Arsenal forward planted a firm header marginally wide of the near post. Carney's Gunners teammate Kelly Smith supplied the cross from the left, but Carney could not find the target.

The early chance was an indication for England that they might find joy against the third-placed Czech outfit, but despite dominating the possession in the opening period they had few clear-cut opportunities to test Marcela Zborilova.

Lianne Sanderson had a strike on goal from the edge of the area, and though the Czech 'keeper did well to rush Sanderson into an early effort, anything lofted would surely have given England the lead.

The home side then lost their captain, Eva Smeralova, after she fell on her left knee after just 20 minutes, but despite that and against the run of play the home side took the lead on 28 minutes through Katerina Doskova.

Czech Republic earned a corner and after Anita Asante had cleared the initial delivery, Doskova found space just five yards out and headed the follow up cross into the roof of the net.

The goal visibly shocked the visitors and they found it difficult to raise the tempo in the hazy sunshine at the Ďolíček Stadium, particularly against a side adept at getting numbers behind the ball and defending deep.

With few chances to level the scores and a lack of the usual fluency Hope Powell had to address the situation at the interval, and England returned earlier than their hosts for the second-half, ready to rectify the first period with Emily Westwood coming on for Lianne Sanderson.

That change would result in a tactical switch with Kelly Smith leading the attack and Westwood taking Smith's place in midfield, and from the off England were far improved from their first-half showing. Chances came steadily and it was the substitute Westwood who levelled the scores on the hour with a thumping strike from distance.

Fara Williams traded passes with Kelly Smith before laying off for her Everton teammate who let rip from 25 yards, the ball flying into the top corner of the goal.

The goal imbued England with confidence and from that point it was one-way traffic as the home side visibly tired, and that was confirmed when the Three Lions blitzed four goals in seven minutes to earn the perfect result ahead of the decisive game with Spain.

Rachel Brown was the unlikely source of England's second goal, eleven minutes from time, as she found Smith with a terrific long pass. Smith breezed past the final defender and lifted the ball over the Zborilova with her right foot.

Two minutes later Smith turned provider with a fine cross that Karen Carney headed home with aplomb, then it was Jill Scott's turn to score her third international goal with a comfortable finish after being found by Fara Williams.

Kelly Smith got her second and England's fifth as she pounced on a Jill Scott header to round the 'keeper and complete the scoring with four minutes remaining. It was little more than England deserved after a much improved second-half showing, and Spain now lie in wait on Thursday.

A draw will be enough for England, but given the attacking ambition shown here that will be the last thing on their minds.

Teams

Czech Republic

1 Marcela Zborilova, 3 Petra Bertholdova, 5 Eva Smeralova (c) (15 Lucie Kladrubska 19), 6 Adela Pvonkova, 7 Veronika Pincova, 8 Lucie Heroldova, 9 Pavlina Scasna, 10 Blanka Penickova (2 Petra Divisova 58), 17 Katerina Doskova, 18 Iva Mocova (14 Veronika Hoferkova 72)

Substitutes
16 Ivana Odlasova, 4 Michaela Markova, 12 Pavla Benyrova, 13 Martina Danielova

England
1 Rachel Brown, 2 Alex Scott, 3 Casey Stoney (14 Rachel Unitt 84), 4 Jill Scott, 5 Lindsay Johnson, 6 Anita Asante, 7 Karen Carney, 8 Fara Williams, 9 Lianne Sanderson (16 Emily Westwood 46), 10 Kelly Smith (c), 11 Rachel Yankey (15 Sue Smith 64)

Substitutes
12 Eniola Aluko, 13 Siobhan Chamberlain, 17 Laura Bassett, 18 Daniel Buet

Referee
Christine Beck (Germany)

Assistant Referees
Inka Mueller, Marina Wozniak (Both Germany

Fourth Official
Jana Adamkova

Attendance
1, 054