For ninety minutes, the capacity
crowd at Eden Arena witnessed a game that had it all. There was late drama,
contentious moments, cynical fouls, some mesmerising passages of play and even
a phantom goal. But when the final whistle went after ninety minutes of blood
and thunder football, it was Slavia Prague who emerged victorious, thanks to
second-half goals from Milan Škoda and Josef Hušbauer.
The reigning champions began well, creating the first real chance of the game when Miroslav Stoch’s drive from distance stung the palms of Martin Dúbravka. This became something of a trend, as Dúbravka denied his compatriot three times in the first half alone.
The last of these saves came in the midst of a Slavia salvo that should have ended with the home side taking the lead. After being denied once again by the Sparta goalkeeper, Stoch squared to Škoda, whose shot at goal was hacked away by Costa. However, replays showed that the Zimbabwean defender cleared the ball after it had crossed the line.
On 71 minutes, Slavia’s pressure finally paid off when Milan Škoda out jumped Ondřej Zahustel and diverted Miroslav Stoch’s free-kick into the bottom corner of the Sparta goal.
With the clock ticking down, the visitors pushed forward in search of an equaliser. Their hopes, however, were dashed when Costa Nhamoinesu received two bookings in as many minutes. But there was still time for one more twist as Josef Hušbauer netted against his old club in time added on to ensure that Slavia would be going home with the spoils.
The keys to the city of a hundred spires once again belong to Slavia Prague.
Away from the Prague derby, the most entertaining game of the weekend came at Karviná’s Městský stadion as Sigma Olomouc defeated their hosts 5-3 in a topsy-turvy game.
Tomáš Zahradníček opened the scoring after just two minutes and the visitors must have been in dreamland when Jakub Plšek doubled their lead eight minutes later. However, Karviná recovered well to pull level, thanks to goals either side of the halftime whistle from Lukáš Budínský and Filip Panák.
At 2-2, the hosts continued to push forward but were systematically picked off by Olomouc, who restored their two-goal cushion as Šimon Falta and David Houska netted either side of the 70-minute mark. Budínský converted a late penalty to give Karviná hope, but Zahradníček, who impressive throughout, pounced to get his second at the death.
There were also plenty of goals in the tie between Jablonec and Vysočina Jihlava, though this fixture was extremely one-sided.
Jihlava’s Petr Tlustý was shown a straight red card for wrestling Martin Doležal to the floor inside the penalty after just twelve minutes, and from that moment the floodgates opened.
Stanislav Tecl scored twice and Vladimir Jovovič, Michal Trávník and Ondřej Mihálik all chipped in with a goal apiece in a commanding 5-0 victory for the Střelnice side.
There was less excitement on display in the two Friday night games. Teplice and Bohemians 1905 played out the only goalless tie of the weekend. Meanwhile over in Prague, Jan Holenda’s brace saw Dukla record a comfortable, if functionary, 2-0 win over Baník Ostrava.
After picking up their first win of the season last week, Mlada Boleslav made it back-to-back victories as they defeated Slovácko thanks to a maiden goal in senior football for the highly rated youngster Matěj Chaluš.
Though Mlada Boleslav’s fortunes appear to have changed, Zbrojovka Brno remain stuck in rut. Despite putting in a solid performance against Slovan Liberec at Srbska, the 1977-78 Czechoslovak champions slipped to their third defeat in four when Roman Potočný scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory for the visitors by way of a trademark left-footed rocket from the edge of the area.
And finally, the weekend’s action was brought to a close on Monday evening as Zlín made the trip north to take on Viktoria Plzeň in a battle of the Europa League hopefuls. Daniel Kolář - thanks in part to a huge deflection - and Michael Krmenčík fired Plzeň into an early lead.
Zlín, though, had their chances and deservedly entered the break only a goal behind when Plzeň centre-back Tomáš Hájek diverted Daniel Holzer’s dangerous cross into his own goal.
The visitors had by far the better of the action in the second half but no matter how hard they tried, they just couldn’t find an equaliser. After disappointment in midweek, Plzeň bounced back in the perfect manner.