The Czechs must have thought they were on their way to a first world title when Martin Fenin's stunning turnaround volley roared past keeper Sergio Romero in the 60th minute of Sunday's Final in Toronto. But it took only a few seconds before the Argentines struck back to spoil the party and send tears streaming from Toronto to Prague.
"Maybe we switched off for one second," said a forlorn Fenin, who finished top Czech scorer with three goals in seven contests. "Maybe that was just long enough for us to lose out. We might have gotten a little too excited, it's hard to say what happened really. But Argentina are a great team and we stayed with them all the way."
Czech head coach Miroslav Soukup also sees the quick turnaround from a goal up to even-again as the turning point in the entertaining Final. "It was a little strange we conceded a goal so shortly after going up a goal," he said. "But Argentine teams do not forgive mistakes. I thought we would be able to get another one, but the opposite happened and it broke us."
The match winner didn't come until the 86th minute, and it was a particularly sad moment for outstanding Czech goalkeeper Radek Petr, whose heroics throughout these Canadian finals have been many and often. Mauro Zarate's 20-yarder screamed in and beat the big keeper at his near post despite a sprawling attempt to keep it out.
Soukup, for one, was in no mood to hear ill talk of his netminder. "We would not have gotten this far had it not been for him," snapped the coach. "He has been one of our best players, along with Fenin, and I couldn't be more proud of him."
On the Argentine side, the hero of the day - and the finals as a whole - was Sergio 'El Kun' Aguero. Scoring the equaliser, he also had a hand in the winner and was deservedly voted best player of the finals and finished top scorer. "Of course he (Aguero) has a great future in the senior national team ahead of him," said Argentina coach Hugo Tocalli. "Along with (Maxi) Moralez, the two represent a bright future for Argentina's senior team."
Individual praise aside, Tocalli was thrilled to have earned his first world title as a head coach (he has been involved in four as assistant). "For years I worked as an assistant, but this is the best feeling," he said. "As head coach, your decisions make the real difference and it feels good to be the boss at a time like this. This is the best team I have ever coached...they did their job so well and played brilliant, attacking football but always with great patience."
In the end, the Argentines saw their lack of nervousness and ability to keep calm after going a goal down as the telling factor. "The Czechs showed a lot today, but we never lost confidence in our abilities," Tocalli went on. "It was a hard game, a tough game, but we came through and I couldn't be happier. I never felt we would lose control of the game."
"The Czechs did what we expected and it was really complicated to break them down because of their size," added fullback Emiliano Insua. "We never got desperate, though, and that was the key to our victory today. We couldn't be happier about our achievement."