Fran Reilly joined Extratime.ie in February 2015 having previously written for the Drogheda/Fingal Independents, loi19.com and the Cork City matchday programme. Though only part of the ET family for a relatively short time, the Donaghmede native has already had the opportunity to cover League of Ireland clubs both domestically and in Europe, as well as Republic of Ireland internationals. He can count Martin O'Neill, Roy Keane and Dutch footballing legend Ruud Gullit amongst those he has come face-to-face with during his line of ET work. He still hopes to someday meet Henrik Larsson. <br /><br /> Fran was once sent to watch Lionel Messi play in the Aviva Stadium for Barcelona but left feeling underwhelmed as his performance fell some way short of replicating Wes Hoolahan's against Deportivo la Coruna in August 2004. That famous night was enough to make Fran a Shels fan and he even pulled on the red shirt himself once for Owen Heary's tribute match in November 2013. Hilariously, he saw a penalty saved by unforgiving goalkeeper Lee Murphy, then at Bohemians. <br /><br /> His one day spell as a member of the Extratime media six-a-side panel fared no better, his status as a reporter coming under threat following a string of less than inspirational performances. However, he convinced the ET hierarchy to persevere with him so he lingers on, covering whatever clubs he can reach by public transport. You can follow Fran on Twitter (@FranTomReilly) where he spends most of his time retweeting other people's LOI views and news and claiming them as his own. <br /><br />
|Competition: Euro 2016 Group D Venue: Stade Geoffroy Guichard - Saint-Etienne Attendance: 38,376 Referee: Mark Clattenburg (ENG)|
Tomas Sivok - Yellow Card (72')
Milan Skoda - Goal (76')
Tomas Necid - Penalty (90')
Fri 17 Jun 2016
2 - 2
Milan Badelj - Yellow Card (14')
Ivan Perisic - Goal (37')
Ivan Rakitic - Goal (59')
Marcelo Brozovic - Yellow Card (74')
Domagoj Vida - Yellow Card (90')
Euro 2016 Report: Czech Republic 2 - 2 Croatia
Published: June 18, 2016
Luka Modric was impressive again against the Czech Republic, but was maybe subbed off prematurely. (Credit: Al Robinson)
A dramatic 89th minute penalty by Tomas Necid gave the Czech Republic a Euro 2016 lifeline as they came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Croatia in Saint Etienne.
Croatia dominated the first-half, taking a deserved lead through Ivan Perisic before the interval. It could have been more for the Vatreni – translation “the Blazers” – as they had 12 attempts on goal in the first-half, with five on target. That lead was doubled early in the second-half when Ivan Rakitic produced a delightful finish to beat Petr Cech.
However, a header from substitute Milan Skoda in the 76th minute gave the Czechs an unlikely route back into the match before a minority of Croatian fans forced a stoppage in play by throwing flares onto the pitch. Then, one minute from time, Tomas Necid – another Czech sub – smashed home a penalty to earn his side a share of the spoils.
The major story before this game was one that transcended the importance of football. Croatian captain Darijo Srna returned to lead out his country despite leaving the camp after last Sunday's 1-0 win over Turkey following the death of his father.
Having returned to his homeland to spend time with his family, Srna rejoined his teammates, saying, “My father's last wish was that I play here, as this is my last competition for Croatia. He was at his happiest when I played for Croatia.” Srna was moved to tears during his country's national anthem.
Those tears were soon replaced by joy, however brief, as the Croats took the lead in the 37th minute. Milan Badelj won possession on the halfway line and he fed it into Ivan Perisic who made no mistake, firing a low shot past Petr Cech after dribbling into the penalty area. The Inter winger also scored for Croatia at the 2014 World Cup against Cameroon and Mexico.
Ante Cacic's men were in complete control by this stage and the half-time break did nothing to stop the flow of chances heading towards Cech in the opposition goal. A second was coming and Croatia got it in the 59th minute. To make it worse for the Czechs, it was essentially a carbon copy of the first goal.
Marcelo Brozovic played the Badelj role this time, robbing possession deep in Czech territory before playing it through to Ivan Rakitic who had all the space in the world. One-on-one with the onrushing Cech, the Barcelona midfielder showed his class, dinking it over the 'keeper to give his side what looked to be an unassailable lead.
Yet perhaps Cacic was guilty of taking that lead for granted as he substituted his talisman, Luka Modric, just three minutes after the second goal. Meanwhile, his opposite number Pavel Vrba was already plotting a way back into the game, making a double substitution in the 67th minute with Josef Sural and Milan Skoda entering the fray.
As fate would have it, the Czechs would get the next goal of the game against the run of play – and Skoda would be the scorer. Tomas Rosicky, Národák captain and recently departed Arsenal player, was the architect, crossing the ball which Skoda would power home with his head to drag his country back into it.
While Croatia still had some semblance of control, the threat of a Czech equaliser was always lingering, and this was when two things happened which would greatly influence the ultimate outcome of the match. First, Vrba used his last substitute in the 86th minute, introducing Tomas Necid.
Then, in the same minute, a minority of Croatian fans threw eight flares onto the pitch which forced a break in play. This group then attacked other Croatian fans in the stand who had no part to play in the trouble. Cacic's players on the pitch could be seen appealing to their supporters to calm things down.
Afterwards, the Croatia manager would blame the “terror of hooligans” for costing his side a point, saying: "We suffered a complete meltdown on the pitch because of a handful of irresponsible individuals and if the game had gone on for any longer, we might have lost it.”
Two minutes after play restarted, with the Croatian players still trying to regain their composure, the Czechs were awarded a penalty when Domagoj Vida was penalised for handling a cross into the box. Necid, Vrba's last substitute, stepped up to emphatically blast the ball down the middle of the goal to give his side a lifeline in the competition.
While four points should still be enough to see Croatia through to the last-16, they will face Spain in Bordeaux on Tuesday well aware that a Czech win over Turkey could potentially see Vrba's side leapfrog them into second in Group D.
Czech Republic: Petr Cech; Pavel Kaderabek, Roman Hubnik, Tomas Sivok, David Limbersky; Jaroslav Plasil (Tomas Necid, 86); Tomas Rosicky, Jirí Skalák (Josef Sural, 67), Ladislav Krejci, Vladimir Darida; David Lafata (Milan Skoda, 67).
Subs not used: Tomás Koubek (GK), Tomás Vaclík (GK), Daniel Kolar, Michal Kadlec, Theodor Gebre Selassie, Borek Dockal, David Pavelka, Daniel Pudil, Marek Suchy.
Bookings: T Sivok (72).
Croatia: Danijel Subasic; Darijo Srna, Vedran Corluka, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic (Sime Vrsaljko, 90+1); Marcelo Brozovic, Milan Badelj, Luka Modric (Mateo Kovacic, 62), Ivan Rakitic (Gordon Schildenfeld, 90+2); Mario Mandzukic.
Subs not used: Lovre Kalinic (GK), Ivan Vargic (GK), Andrej Kramaric, Mateo Kovacic, Nikola Kalinic, Tin Jedvaj, Ante Coric, Duje Cop, Marko Pjaca, Marko Rog.
Bookings: M Badelj (14), M Brozovic (74), D Vida (88).
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (ENG).
Extratime Man of the Match: Luka Modric (Croatia).