Ranking Games: Sparta, thanks to Bláha, defeats Everton and finishes fifth in the tournament

30.07.2018 11:00

Though valid for the 5th and 6th place, the match between Sparta and Everton wasn’t just about that. In fact, it was also a rematch of last year’s, when Everton prevailed over the Czechs in the group stage. Thanks to this factor, the game was sure to have added spice to it, as Sparta was sure to give it all it had in an effort to tie the score between the two. To be sure, though, Everton was not going to give any concessions to the Czechs.

The first twenty minutes of the match, before the mandatory water break, offered very little in terms of excitement. Everton seemed to be the team pushing forward more; despite this, they did not create anything really worthy of note. The same can be said for Sparta, though, who, in addition, struggled to really get into gear. At the 9th minute, Everton had a chance when Ellis Simms got away on the left-hand side and then cut an assist across to the opposite side, where Max Thompson was waiting, but his shot was wanting and ended up high above the crossbar. Ten minutes later, Sparta won a corner kick, but the apparently rehearsed play did not bear the desired fruits as the resulting shot ended up going very wide of the right-hand post. At the 26th, Everton had perhaps the clearest chance of the half, when Pedro Neves slalomed his way past a player inside the box and shot, but the ball went wide. A minute later, Sparta had its own up-close and personal chance when Michal Szewieczek served a low assist that cut into the box, but Adam Gabriel’s shot was wanting and weak, the keeper saving it easily. At this point, having expended some of their energies in the first fraction of the half, Everton’s game began being a little less accurate. This allowed Sparta to push forward more, garnering multiple corners, namely between the 27th and 29th minutes, but nothing came of them. Two minutes before the end, Everton won a corner themselves, but the play was stopped due to an attacking foul.

The second half got off to an explosive start, as Sparta found a goal after a fast counterattack on the heels of an Everton corner. A nice through ball down the left-hand side found Vaclav Blaha, who entered the box, dribbled the keeper, and got off a shot on the empty goal, the ball hitting the inside of the left-hand post and going in. Two minutes later, Everton was awarded a corner; the cross to the far post found Ryan Astley, but his header went wide. At the 44th minute, Sparta was at it again, this time with Dominik Simacek, but his shot was stopped by the keeper. Five minutes later it was again Sparta who tried to score, as the cross from a corner kick somehow found Blaha, but his low shot towards the right-hand corner was stopped by the watchful keeper. At the 57th minute, a long ball finds Kieran Phillips, but the dangerous play is somehow neutralized by the defense. Nine minutes later, Everton won a free kick from outside the box, then taken by Philips; the shot was a great attempt, but the keeper was able to nick it and the ball hit the crossbar, going out for a corner. At the 69th, a nice ball cut diagonally into the box was barely missed by Blaha, much to his visible disappointment. At the 73rd it was Everton who tried again, after Tom Warren served Bobby Carroll, but his shot was too central to worry the keeper. Two minutes later Everton tried again, when Phillips stole a ball away from a defender from inside the box on the right-hand side, but the angle of his shot was too diagonal and ended out of bounds to the right of the keeper. The last notable chance of the match was for Sparta, who hit the top of the left-hand post with a shot by Vojtech Patrak.

In the end, Sparta was able to take their revenge on the British for last year’s defeat. Everton did put up a good fight, and tried to find the equalizing goal, but in the end Sparta’s defense was good at closing them down, conceding very little. Thus, the Czechs walked away with the win and the 5th place, while Everton had to return home with just the 6th.
Tagy: sparta    everton    england   

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