Chory winner helps Plzen edge Roma, qualify for Europa League

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Tomas Chory's winner 18 minutes from time secured Viktoria Plzen a place in the UEFA Europa League, as they beat Roma 2-1 to pip CSKA Moscow to third place in Group G.

Although CSKA claimed a remarkable 3-0 win away to Real Madrid, the Czech club just needed to get the same number of points as the Russians due to their superior head-to-head record and they showed admirable character to progress.

Roma, who were already sure of second spot, looked every inch a side with nothing on the line during the first half, as they offered precious little going forward and just about survived falling behind – Jan Kovarik looking particularly lively for the hosts.

Kovarik opened the scoring just after the hour and, although Cengiz Under pegged them back, Chory got what proved to be the winner in the 72nd minute, rendering CSKA's efforts at the Santiago Bernabeu useless.

The first half was one of very few chances, as Roma failed to offer much spark despite naming a strong starting XI.

Roma were lucky to not find themselves behind in the 26th minute, but they were let off the hook as Kovarik smashed over from 12 yards after the visitors were unable to clear a cross.

Kovarik threatened again just before half-time, but Chory somehow failed to connect with his brilliantly controlled volley across the face of goal.

The lively Kovarik eventually got his goal in the 62nd minute, tapping in Jan Kopic's low cross on the break.

Under levelled five minutes later with a neat 20-yard finish into the bottom-left corner after Davide Santon's cut-back, but Plzen had the last laugh.

At the other end, Kovarik lashed a half-volley at Antonio Mirante after being released into the box and Chory was on hand to head the rebound beyond the helpless goalkeeper, with a late Luca Pellegrini red card for a flailing elbow making things worse for Roma.

What does it mean? Plzen's character shines through

It cannot have been easy for Plzen to have rallied again after Under's equaliser, but if anything they were even better after that goal. The winner was the least they deserved, and they could have got more.

Kovarik the key man for Plzen

Although he was guilty of a bad miss in the first half, Kovarik was a constant nuisance and made amends for wasting that early chance by scoring a well-worked goal after the break.

Pastore offers little craft

Surrounded by the less experienced Patrick Schick, Justin Kluivert and Cengiz Under, the onus was on Pastore to take the creative lead in midfield, but he had next to no impact and was replaced by another youngster – Nicolo Zaniolo – just before the hour.

What's next?

Plzen will be looking to keep the pressure on Sparta Prague at the top of the table on Sunday when they host Karvina, while Roma host Genoa on the same day hoping to move back into Serie A's European places.

Source Omnisport