Czech Republic and Panama met up in Montreal on Friday with both sides still hoping to progress to the knockout stage. Starting out on two points, the European side began as favourites. and they proved they deserved that billing.
The match began at a sluggish pace, despite the Canaleros knowing from the outset that victory alone would suffice. Gabriel Torres gave notice that they meant business with a couple of off-target efforts in the seventh and eight minutes, but it was the Czechs who slowly established a stranglehold on proceedings. They came closest to opening the scoring too, whenMarek Stresik forced Luis Mejia into a fine save on 29 minutes. Keeping up the pressure, Martin Fenin then fizzed a shot narrowly wide nine minutes later.The rhythm picked up noticeably after the restart, yet it took until the end of the game for the real fireworks to begin. When they did, it was Lubos Kalouda who set them off with his 79th-minute header, closely followed by team-mate Stresik, who doubled the Czech Republic's advantage with a free-kick barely three minutes afterwards.
Nelson Barahona responded with a free-kick of his own with six minutes remaining, but any hopes it would spark a dramatic comeback were misplaced. The Panamanians had left it too late, and this win combined with Argentina's success over Korea DPR means the Czechs finish second in the group on five points. They now proceed to the Round of 16, while fourth-placed Panama must pack their bags and head for home.