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40

40th Minute, Michal Bilek, Czechoslovakia v USA, 1990 World Cup Group Stage
Context
Matches at the 1990 World Cup were often tight and dull affairs but this match had six goals, five of them scored by the Czechs. Czechoslovakian football always seemed to fluctuate between high and lows. They were World Cup runners up in 1962 but failed to qualify for 1966. They won the European Championships in 1976 and finished third four years later but didn’t make it to Germany in 1974 or Argentina in 1978. They didn’t win a game at the World Cup between 1962 and 1990.
Czechoslovakia made the World Cup in Italy by avoiding defeat in Lisbon against Portugal. The draw pitted them against the hosts but they were confident of making it through with Austria and USA making up the group.
The USA were competing in their first World Cup since 1950. In 1989 they became aware they would host the World Cup in 1994 so when qualification for Italia ’90 was sealed with a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago it gave them the chance to gain some valuable experience.
They soon found out just how tough it was at the top. Czechoslovakia dominated from the start and missed a couple of good chances before taking the lead on the 25th minute through Skuhravy.
The Goal
Michal Bilek was given the chance to make it 2-0 from the spot after some clumsy defending from the North Americans…

What Happened Next?
Czechoslavakia won 5-1 and beat Austria 1-0 to advance to the knockout stages. An impressive late show saw them thrash Costa Rica 4-1 but in the quarter finals Czechoslovakia lost to Germany, falling victim to a penalty in a 1-0 defeat. This would be the last time Czechoslovakia competed at a World Cup before it was peacefully dissolved and separated into two different countries in 1992.
Bilek would go onto manage the Czech Republic but they failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and he lost his job after four years in charge.

 

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