Jablonec 1-1 Mlada Boleslav (Jablonec win on penalties)
2012-13 Czech Cup Final
Letni Stadion, Chomutov
Blanka Penickova, the Slavia Prague midfielder, stood twelve yards from goal and looked into the distance.
Professionals often say that the solitary walk from centre-circle to the penalty spot is the longest and most nerve-wracking passage anybody will encounter on a football field.
She missed and suddenly realised that all the murmuring and prophecies were wrong; the walk back after failing to net a penalty was much, much worse.
Petr Johana, the vastly experienced central defender, will know how she feels.
Lightning does strike twice, especially in the Czech Cup.
The nerves were there again and for those who had stayed the course of the afternoon in the Letni Stadion.
Petr Johana smacked the ball onto the crossbar and the colossus centre-back could only watch as Jan Kopic calmly slotted his penalty straight down the middle to give Jablonec only their second ever domestic honour.
For Roman Skuhravy, now Jablonec’s caretaker manager, to get his hands back on the trophy he first won fifteen years ago as a player.
It wouldn’t be extremely unfair to state that Jablonec did not get going until the second-half: Their opponents, Mlada Boleslav started much the brighter of the two sides and after the early exchanges were swapped, it was those in blue and white who were beginning to assert control of the final.
With Jan Chramosta flickering between the lines of the midfield and defence and Ondrej Zahustel causing problems down the right, it seemed that the recovery of Boleslav would be the overriding narrative leaving Chomutov.
Not even the sudden departure of Martin Nespor who had to be stretchered off the field of play with as cruel fate would have it a knee injury that looks set to keep the forward out of action for many months.
It was the story of their season returning to repeat itself on the grand stage.
But in keeping with mirroring their entire season Boleslav fell behind. Michal Hubnik jinked his way past two onrushing defenders before scooping the ball over Miroslav Miller to give Jablonec the lead firmly against the run of play.
Fall behind only served to boost Ml.Boleslav’s resolve as they soon clawed their way back into the tie to take the lead when play was paused for the half time interval.
A lapse in concentration from the Jablonec backline gifted Boleslav the equaliser as a quick throw found Jan Chramosta with the freedom of Chomutov and the twenty-two year old gleefully centred the ball for Zahustel to tap in from close range.
Chramosta then volleyed in just before the interval after David Jarolim’s corner made its way through a sea of bodies to land at the feet of the striker.
The game was appearing to slip through the fingers of Jablonec and something needed to be done.
Whilst, not the tactician that Vaclav Kotal, his predecessor, is, Roman Skuhravy radically altered the course of the game during the fifteen-minute break.
Quite why the duo of Karel Pitak and Jan Kopic were on the bench from the outset nobody knows considering their standing as Jablonec’s leading lights in a post-Lafata age, but once they stood foot on the Chomutov pitch they slowly began to run the show, linking well with Hubnik and finding the cracks in the Boleslav defence.
It was a substitution that would swing the momentum of the Czech Cup.
On another day, Jablonec would have cantered away to victory but they spurned numerous opportunities to level the tie well before the closing stages.
Hubnik and Pitak were the most culpable, both failing to beat Miller on a handful of occasions. But then, as Boleslav looked to have weathered the storm and poked one arm outside to check the conditions in an act of careful forward trepidation, they were robbed of the ball in midfield. Kopic picked out Pitak who made no mistake as he rifled the ball into the far corner of the goal from the edge of the penalty area.
After missing far easier chances Pitak took the most difficult.
With no extra-time the game went down to penalties; perhaps the cruellest way of deciding a game of football but also the more theatrical in a soap-opera age.
After grabbing the equaliser Pitak failed to net after Vaclav Ondrejka had seen the opening spot-kick of the shootout saved by Michal Spit.
Eight were converted in succession until Johana’s attempt rattled the woodwork.
Then Kopic scored to proclaim Jablonec as the Czech Cup winners of 2012/2013. Given their performances and the calibre of opposition they defeated to reach Chomutov, it is, with hindsight, a just result.
Jablonec: Spit- Kubista (46′ Piták), Rossi Silva, Benes, Novak – Cizek (77′ Zoubele), Loucka, Vanek, Elias, Jablonsky (46′ Kopic) – Hubnik
Mlada Boleslav: Miller- Kudela, Johana, Sevinsky, Boril- Zahustel (71′ Kysela), Jarolim, Scuk, Mares (85 Synek) – Nespor (12′ Ondrejka), Chramosta
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 19th May 2013