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Euro 2024: Czech coach wants side to bounce back from Portugal despair

Czechs face Georgia in crucial Group F match in Hamburg early on Saturday evening

Czech Republic coach Ivan Hasek says his players need to bounce back quickly from their heartbreaking defeat to Portugal.

The Czechs produced a dogged defensive display before taking a shock lead against the 2016 winners just over an hour into their Group F opener in Leipzig.

However an unfortunate own-goal and a gut-wrenching stoppage-time winner from sub Francisco Conceicao ensured Hasek’s side go into Saturday’s second group game against Georgia, beaten 3-1 by Turkey on Tuesday, with both sides seeking to avoid a defeat which would surely see them eliminated.

Hasek told the uefa website: “I have to admit it is a big pity that we did not finish our work; it was close. We made it very difficult for Portugal, one of the best teams in the world.

“We are all disappointed to have conceded in additional time. We have to put it behind us very quickly as in four days we will play a key game. We will need to improve.

“Portugal were the better side and deserved to win. But, at the same time, I would like to thank my players for their hard work for the team. We have to quickly analyse the match and get ready for the next one.”

Hasek said the quality of Roberto Martinez’s men – among the favourites for the title – meant they were forced to defend deep and hope to hit their opponents on the break.

“We were pushed to a deep defensive block and were not able to keep the ball,” he said. “Of course we did not want that, but the quality of Portugal forced us into it.

“Because we had to work hard defensively, we did not have enough power to keep the ball and often lost it very easily.”

Hasek heaped special praise on 39-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo who became the first man to play in six European Championships and came close to scoring on several occasions.

“It is really unbelievable how dangerous a player Cristiano Ronaldo is in every game at his age,” he said.

“He showed his genius again, he knows how to get involved in chances. My hat goes off to him; he is one of the best players in football history. Truly a fabulous man.”

Picture of Alex Hoad

Alex Hoad

Alex has more than 15 years' experience in sports journalism and has reported on multiple Olympics, World Cups and European Championships in additional to Champions League, Europa League and domestic football.