GLASGOW (Reuters) - The Czechs have already authored some of the European Championship’s most iconic goals, but Patrik Schick’s audacious long-range effort against Scotland on Monday is right up there with the best.
His second goal in the Group D clash at Hampden park was struck from some 45 metres out, just inside the Scottish half as he spotted goalkeeper David Marshall off his line and hammered a left-footed lob downfield.
It curled through the air with unerring precision into an empty net, stunning the raucous crowd into silence.
Antonin Panenka and Karel Poborksy would have been proud.
Panenka has his name written into the lexicon of the game for his cheeky penalty dink in the post-match shootout that saw the former Czechoslovakia crowned European champions in 1976.
Poborksy lobbed Portugal goalkeeper Vitor Baia at Euro '96 - the first major tournament the new Czech Republic played in - using his left foot like a shovel to lift the ball high into the air, up and over and into the back of the net for another eye-popping tournament finish.
Schick’s strike will be the major talking point from a clash that took a while to warm up, but ended by keeping up the excitement of the weekend’s games at Euro 2020.
It was not surprising that the Czechs were timid to begin with, presumably cautious that Scotland would be off to a rousing start in front of a partisan crowd.
But the hosts looked overawed and failed to use any of the momentum that the 12,000 roaring spectators attempted to give them.
Hampden Park was heaving long before kick off, even if the restricted capacity was a far cry from the stadium’s halcyon days of squeezing in over 100,000 spectators.
Joyous sing-a-longs before the start, a rousing rendition of "Flower of Scotland" and a decent effort at recreating the famous "Hampden Roar" would have been a major pick-up for any side.
But Scotland’s inexperience at the top level was quickly evident and there was little their passionate supporters could do about it, even at the top of their voices.
The country last qualified for a major tournament 23 years ago, and their lack of time at the top level was cruelly exposed by the Czechs, who have appeared at every edition of the Euros in that time.
Schick was allowed to tower above the home defence to put the Czechs ahead just before half-time, and there were several other opportunities for the side to ensure a bigger winning margin.
Scotland did have opportunities, particularly in and around the small box, but found goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik in outstanding form. They are now firmly up against it, with England to come at Wembley on Friday night and then a last group game against World Cup runners-up Croatia.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Hugh Lawson)