Soccer-Czechs down Poland 3-1 in Euro qualifier thanks to quick-fire goals

Soccer Football - UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifiers - Group E - Czech Republic v Poland - Fortuna Stadium, Prague, Czech Republic - March 24, 2023 Czech Republic's Alex Kral celebrates with Jan Kuchta after the match REUTERS/David W Cerny

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Two goals within the first three minutes and a second-half Jan Kuchta strike helped the Czech Republic to cruise past Poland 3-1 in their opening Euro 2024 qualifier on Friday.

The Czechs ruined the debut of Poland manager Fernando Santos by netting their first goal just 27 seconds after kickoff in the Group E encounter, with Ladislav Krejci out-jumping a Polish defender to head home Vladimir Coufal's long throw in.

Two players making their senior team debut combined to double the lead, with Tomas Cvancara firing in David Jurasek's cross from the left flank past Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

The visitors controlled possession for large spells following their torrid start but the Czechs effectively wrapped up the win in the 64th minute when Jan Kuchta tapped in Alex Kral's low cross. Damian Szymanski pulled a goal back for Poland in the 87th minute.

"We started very well and we thought we had to go on like that and not to slow down because Poland have big quality," Cvancara told Czech Television.

"We played a very good game tonight."

The Czechs -- who found their scoring touch without injured Bayer Leverkusen striker Patrik Schick -- travel to Moldova on Monday while the Poles host Albania in Group E.

(Reporting by Michael Kahn, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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