Patrik Schick rose to the top of the Euro 2020 scorers chart with his third of the tournament as the Czech Republic held Croatia 1-1 in Glasgow to move closer to the bottom 16.
Schick broke Scottish hearts on Monday with two goals to beat the hosts at Hampden Park 2-0, including an incredible strike from nearly 50 meters that would become one of the best in European Championship history.
He had a much simpler task from the penalty spot to open the scoring, but Ivan Perisic’s superb strike early in the second half kept Croatia’s chances of reaching the knockout stage.
The World Cup finalists will have to beat Scotland on Tuesday to either propel the Czechs to second place in Group D or very likely qualify as one of the top four teams in third place.
The Czechs lead England by one point at the top of the group ahead of the Three Lions’ grudge match against Scotland later on Friday.
Building on their first victory, Jaroslav Silhavy’s men got off to a confident start as West Ham duo Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek approached.
Schick then had a glorious chance at Coufal’s reduction, but a tenth of the distance he scored four days ago he failed to make a soft connection and Dominik Livakovic easily saved.
Croatia upset Argentina and England on their way to the final in Russia three years ago, but have seemed a pale imitation of that team so far this tournament without Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic, who have taken their retirement from international football.
Aging Luka Modric and Perisic remain their country’s biggest threats and a well-crafted corner between the two found the Inter Milan winger but his shot was too close to Tomas Vaclik.
Dejan Lovren had been recalled by Zlatko Dalic twice after a 1-0 loss to England on Sunday, but the former Liverpool center-back was penalized in highly controversial circumstances to offer the Czechs the first goal.
Lovren’s elbow caught Schick as the two challenged an aerial ball into the box.
Bayer Leverkusen striker ended up with a bloody nose and while receiving treatment Spanish referee Carlos del Cerro Grande was advised to review the incident by VAR.
There didn’t seem to be any intention on Lovren’s part, but the official pointed to the spot anyway.
Schick sent Livakovic the wrong way to advance in the Golden Boot race.
Ante Rebic had a great chance to equalize immediately, but summed up half of Croatia when he sliced horribly wide.
Dalic had seen enough as he made two changes at the break with Bruno Petkovic and Luka Ivanusec introduced.
But it was Croatia’s trusted source of goals in major tournaments that found the magical moment to kick off their tournament within two minutes of the break.
# photo1Perisic cut inside on his weaker right foot to explode in the top corner for his eighth goal at a European Championship or World Cup.
Croatia had the best chance of snatching all three points as Nikola Vlasic shot a few inches wide before Tomas Kalas produced a final block to bar Petkovic at the last minute.
Silhavy’s insane celebrations at the final whistle showed who the happiest team with one point is, with the Czechs likely already having done enough to secure a place in the bottom 16 thanks to their four points.
© 2021 AFP