LONDON // The England coach Fabio Capello said after his England team scrambled a 2-2 draw against Czech Republic last night he was still able to take plenty of positives from the game. Although admitting England had a problem dealing with the Czechs' swift counter-attacking moves, the Italian said: "I think we are ready for the World Cup qualifiers. "I think we did well in the first half and put Petr Cech under a lot of pressure. He was their best player and made three good saves."
Capello also said he was pleased with the way that Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and a deep-lying Wayne Rooney played together and that overall he was happy with the performance. "The Czechs are a very good team which is why I wanted to play them, they are not easy to beat. "But we created chances, especially in the first half and played well. But we suffered when they counter-attacked and this is a problem we must work on."
For most of the match England did not look recognisably different from the lacklustre side that failed to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals under former boss Steve McClaren, but Capello said: "I can see progression. I think we are moving forward." Czech coach Petr Rada, in charge of the team for the first time following the end of Karel Brueckner's long reign, said he was disappointed to concede a goal in the last minute of stoppage time which cost his side victory.
Rada, who turns 50 on Thursday, would have celebrated that landmark birthday in style with a win but for substitute Joe Cole's late goal. However, he was not too downhearted. "We started the match with the idea of surviving, which we managed. We were attacking well from the breaks," he said. After Milan Baros put the Czechs ahead in the 22nd minute, Wes Brown equalised just before half-time. Rada said: "Maybe if we had started the second half 1-0 up it would have been better for us, but although it shook us, Marek Jankulovsvky scored a beautiful goal from his free kick.
"We controlled the game for most of the second half and they did not have too many scoring chances. But England are a very strong team who played right to the end and it was a shame we conceded such a late goal." England start their World Cup qualifiers against Andorra next month while the Czechs play Northern Ireland. *Reuters