After securing the HET Liga title last time
out with a comfortable, if narrow, 2-1 victory over Teplice, Viktoria Plzeň
turned on the style as they rounded off a successful campaign with an emphatic
5-1 rout of Dukla Prague.
In a game that pitted the league’s best attack against its worst defence, goals were always going to be the course of the day and it took just three minutes for Plzeň to go ahead as Michael Krmenčík rather scrappily slotted in from close range. Krmenčík then doubled the champion’s lead ten minutes later when he held off the attention of both Jakub Podaný and Michal Bezpalec, turned and fired underneath Matúš Hruška.
Aleš Čermák made it 3-0 to the visitors with a neat finish from the edge of the box, but the midfielder’s strike seemed to breathe some life into the hosts who hit the woodwork through Nestor Albiach before pulling a goal back when Dominik Preisler turned in Branislav Miloševič’s cross at the back post.
That was about as good as things got for Dukla. Michael Krmenčík completed his hattrick just before the hour mark - and with it secured his status as the Golden Boot winner for the 2017-18 season - and shortly afterwards, teenager Ondřej Štursa scored his first senior goal to round off a comprehensive 5-1 win.
The destination of the league trophy was known in advance of the blanked 16:00 kickoffs, but little else was set in stone.
Going into the final day, Slavia Prague, Jablonec, Sigma Olomouc and Sparta Prague all knew that they would be competing in Europe next season. They just didn’t know in which competition and, specifically, at what stage they’d enter.
Jablonec were the first to strike. After weathering some of an early Slovácko storm, Petr Rada’s side assumed control of the tie and took a lead they were never in danger of losing when Martin Doležal headed in Tomáš Holeš’ cross at the far post. Jan Chramosta sealed the win for Jablonec shortly after the break.
A Jablonec victory, coupled with a Slavia defeat up at Na Stínadlech would see the sewn-ones slip out of the Champions League places on the final day. But any fears that the Prague side would miss out on Europe’s premier competition were allayed when Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui put Slavia ahead just before half-time. Tomáš Souček and Jaromír Zmrhal scored in the second half to secure Slavia a fully deserved victory and with it, a second-place finish. Jablonec’s consolation for finishing third though is a direct entry to the Europa League Group Stages where they could face the likes of Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen or Lazio.
That left Sparta Prague and Sigma Olomouc squabbling over who would end the season in fourth. Come the final whistle, that honour fell to Sigma Olomouc who swept aside Mlada Boleslav 3-0 thanks to a brace from free-scoring midfielder Jakub Plšek, either side of twenty-five-yard drive from Šimon Falta. Sparta, meanwhile, were held to a goalless draw by their Prague rivals Bohemians.
Down at the bottom of the table, a whole host of teams were mathematically in danger of joining Zbrojovka Brno in relegation to the FNL.
Zlín confirmed their status relatively comfortably, recording a 3-1 victory over Slovan Liberec thanks to a hattrick from Jean-David Beauguel. However, three other sides all flirted with the drop as Baník Ostrava, Karviná and Vysočina Jihlava all fell into the final relegation place at one point or another.
Karviná began the day second bottom and there they remained for the best part of an hour until Jan Kalabiška put them ahead away at the similarly relegation-threatened Jihlava. That scoreline sent Baník Ostrava tumbling down to fifteenth, but the former Czech champions quickly rallied to score twice through Dame Diop and Marek Hlinka to all but secure their HET Liga safety. However, back in Jihlava, one goal could change the course of the entire afternoon. If Vysočina were able to find an equaliser, that would end Karviná’s two-year stint in the top-flight status.
That set up a tense and nervy final twenty minutes. But in the end, after both teams spurned chances, a ragged Jihlava side conceded a late penalty. Tomáš Wágner duly converted the spot kick to condemn Vysočina to relegation.
Champions: Viktoria Plzeň
Relegated: Vysočina Jihlava and Zbrojovka Brno
Promoted from the FNL: Opava (champions) and Příbram