England suffered their first qualifying defeat in a decade on this day in 2019 as they slipped to a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Czech Republic in Prague.
Gareth Southgate’s men went into the game knowing victory would put them through to Euro 2020 with three matches to spare, and many thought it would be done with ease given the 5-0 thrashing England inflicted on the Czechs at Wembley a few months prior.
More of the same seemed on the cards when Harry Kane slotted home a fifth-minute penalty to put England in the driving seat.
However, the lead lasted just four minutes before the hosts drew level when Jakub Brabec bundled home a corner, and from then on, the Czechs played with increasing confidence as they chased victory at the Sinobo Stadium.
England failed to make any impression in the second period and a Czech winner would arrive in the 85th minute when they capitalised on over-elaborate play at the back from the visitors.
Jordan Pickford’s pass was pounced on by Lukas Masopust who scurried down the right before cutting back to substitute Zdenek Ondrasek who swept home the winner.
The result ended England’s 43-match unbeaten run in Euro and World Cup qualifying matches stretching back to a 1-0 loss in Ukraine in October 2009 and was a result that Southgate’s stuttering side very much deserved.
“Clearly that’s not a night that we wanted to be a part of in terms of that record,” Southgate said.
“We didn’t play well enough, simple as that. We conceded possession of the ball too cheaply.
“Particularly in the first half we didn’t create enough chances. Second half we had some good chances that we didn’t take and throughout the night we were too open out of possession.
“Some of that was because of giving the ball away. So we gave the Czechs, who played well, got to give them credit, we gave them too many opportunities to score.”
England bounced back from the defeat in impressive fashion, winning their final three qualifiers emphatically – beating Bulgaria 6-0, Montenegro 7-0 and Kosovo 4-0 – to finish six points clear at the second-placed Czechs at the top of Group A with seven wins out of eight.
That sealed their place at Euro 2020 – a tournament delayed until 2021 – where England would finish runners-up after losing to Italy on penalties in the final at Wembley.