The Czech Republic didn't create many chances for themselves today at the Stadion Miejski, but when it really counted Milan Baros and Petr Jiracek combined to score the game's lone goal, giving the Czechs the top spot in Group A and a spot in the quarterfinals.
The first half started great for Poland as they put the Czech Republic defense under a ton of pressure early but failed to take advantage by putting a ball in the net. As the half progressed, the Czechs were able to wrestle away possession and slow the match down to the plodding crawl that benefited their desire for a draw. All that changed in the second half.
With Greece going up 1-0 on Russia in first half stoppage time (the 47th minute to be exact), the Czechs were now faced with the need for a win to advance to the quarterfinal, just like Poland.
That fact was clear from the start of the second half, as the Czechs were far more aggressive on the attack compared to the first 45 minutes. The biggest difference, and the main reason Poland wasn't able to generate the kind of chances we saw in the first 25 minutes or so of the first half, was the fact that the Czechs were able to completely shut down the wing play from Poland.
The Czechs had a brilliant chance to take the lead in the 65th minute as Tomas Sivok directed a point-blank header on goal, but Przemyslaw Tyton was up to the task, making a defensive reflex save to keep Poland's hopes alive.
The Czechs continued to put on the pressure, and their persistence paid off in the 72nd minute. After a rare foray forward for Poland, the Czechs hit on the counter attack. After an extremely poor giveaway by Rafal Murawski, the Czechs rushed forward, getting to the ball to Milan Baros who patiently held things up just long enough to allow Petr Jiracek time to make a run to his left. Baros made a simple pass and Jiracek beat Przemyslaw Tyton with a low shot.
Poland had a last gasp effort denied by a tremendous defensive play from Michal Kadlec. Jakub Blaszczykowski drew out Petr Cech and chipped a shot over the sliding keeper that looked destined for the back of the net. At the last second, Kadlec came flying in and deflected the shot away, preserving the victory for the Czechs.
The co-host Poland will go out of Euro 2012 lamenting their inconsistent play and wondering what might of been had they connected on one or two of the excellent chances they had in the first half.
You can find our previous live coverage of both of Saturday's games in our Euro 2012, Group A Finale StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.