OLOMOUC – The Czech Republic beat 10-man Moldova 3-0 to qualify for Euro 2024 after Tomas Chory scored and provided an assist on his international debut in the Group E clash on Nov 20.
However, coach Jaroslav Silhavy resigned after the win, saying his decision was partly due to the pressure of the job.
His side struck when Chory picked out David Doudera down the left flank and the defender collected the ball before slotting past onrushing goalkeeper Dorian Railean in the 14th minute.
Viktoria Plzen’s Chory, playing in his hometown, powered home a header from Vasil Kusej’s corner in the 72nd minute before captain Tomas Soucek got the third goal just before the end.
Moldova, who had defender Vladislav Baboglo sent off 10 minutes after half-time for a second yellow card, posed problems for the Czechs early on but lacked a clinical finish.
The Czechs played without full-back Vladimir Coufal, central defender Jakub Brabec and forward Jan Kuchta, who were sent home for violating team rules after being photographed in a nightclub before the match. All three started the 1-1 draw in Poland on Nov 17.
The Czech victory means the 1996 runners-up will play in their eighth successive Euros after finishing second, level on 15 points with Albania who have a better head-to-head record.
“Although we are happy now, we had already decided before the game not to continue,” Silhavy said in an interview as he explained why he was stepping down despite qualifying.
“I told (Czech Football Association) president Petr Fouska. The pressure was already enormous, sometimes I didn’t understand it myself. This also contributed to our decision.”
Slovenia will appear at the European Championship for the first time since 2000 after their 2-1 win at home to Kazakhstan in Ljubljana clinched second place behind Denmark in Group H.
Benjamin Verbic netted Slovenia’s late winner after Ramazan Orazov had netted for Kazakhstan to cancel out Benjamin Sesko’s penalty opener.
“I am really happy, happy and proud. It was not easy,” said their coach Matjaz Kek.
“This is another milestone in Slovenian football, I hope we will be able to respect it. Today, when it was the hardest… somehow I remained calm. It seemed to me that (the players know) these matches we cannot lose.
“It was difficult from the very beginning. But we were focused, we clearly showed what we wanted.”
Kazakhstan would have qualified with a win but will instead now go into the play-offs as their hopes of appearing at first major tournament remain alive.
Denmark lost 2-0 in Northern Ireland, with Isaac Price and Dion Charles scoring, while Finland – who will be in the play-offs – won 2-1 away to minnows San Marino. REUTERS, AFP