In a tie that truly deserved the
‘Super Sunday’ moniker, the runaway league leaders Viktoria Plzeň welcomed last
season’s champions, Slavia Prague, to the Doosan Arena.
The last meeting to take place between these two sides was effectively the title decider, with Slavia winning that contest, eeking out a narrow advantage in the process, and going on to win their first league championship in nine years. This tie had a similar feel about it, though a defeat for Plzeň would still leave them at the summit with some distance between themselves and their challengers from the capital.
The game itself was tense and not the gung-ho classic that the neutrals perhaps wanted. But there was a winner and – surprise surprise – it was Viktoria Plzeň who emerged victorious thanks to Daniel Kolář’s second-half strike. Even at this relatively early stage of the season, with Viktoria now thirteen points clear, some are already crowning Pavel Vrba’s HET Liga champions.
Of course, Slavia will have something to say about that. As too will Sigma Olomouc who jumped above the red-whites thanks to a scrappy 1-1 draw with Bohemians 1905 in Prague. It was the hosts who had the better of the game, something that goalscorer Jakub Plšek was quick to point out after the game. But as Bohemians know all too well from last week, you take all the points that you can.
Zlín celebrated their 2-2 draw with Sparta Prague like a victory. They had a good reason to as Adnan Džafić’s equaliser came with what was effectively the last kick of the game. The tie was a thoroughly entertaining one: Ubong Ekpai opened the scoring for Zlín after fifteen minutes, finishing off a well-worked and utterly clinical counter-attack. But Sparta, with Vyacheslav Karavaev and Martin Frýdek back in the starting eleven, came back to take the lead, thanks to goals from Josef Šural and substitute Marc Janko. But with seconds left to play, a long crossfield ball found Džafić unmarked and the Bosnian found the bottom corner.
Plzeň aside, it was a poor weekend for the HET Liga’s top five. In the shock of the round, Slovan Liberec, who had been flying high of late, were soundly beaten by 3-1 Vysočina Jihlava. Twenty-two year-old midfielder Jan Záviška was the difference maker for Jihlava as on his maiden start in the top flight, he bagged a quick-salvo brace that proved to be decisive. A late red card for Roman Potočný compounded Liberec’s misery and also summed up their performance.
On Sunday, news broke that Karviná had sacked manager Jozef Weber after a poor run of form had seen the Silesian side drop to fifteenth in the table. Saturday’s defeat to Dukla Prague was the final straw for the Karviná board, a loss made all the more painful given that they were 2-0 up thirty-minutes left to play.
Midfielders Filip Panak and Lukáš Budínský had put Karviná in a commanding position but when Dominik Preisler pulled a goal back just after the hour mark, the cracks began to appear. And in the final five minutes Jan Holenda and Lukáš Holík scored to seal an unlikely turnaround.
After a chastening defeat to local rivals Slovan Liberec in the Ještěd derby last week, Jablonec returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over bottom side Zbrojovka Brno. The result sees the Strelnice club remain in sixth, but given that those above them dropped points, they’re now right back in the hunt for a Europa League place.
Mladá Boleslav too will have their eyes on entry into European competition next season, though they are going about getting there the hard way. The central Bohemian club laboured to a 1-0 win over Baník Ostrava on Saturday and will be without first choice goalkeeper Kamran Ağayev after the Azerbaijani international was sent off after picking up two yellow cards in as many minutes. The defeat sees Baník level on points with Karviná and Zbrojovka at the foot of the table.
And finally, Teplice heaped more misery on a Slovácko side in freefall. The Uherské Hradiště side have only won once in their past twenty league games and they failed to win yet again as they went down 3-0 at na Stínadlech.