Croatia turned a comfortable two-goal lead into a 2-2 draw against the Czech Republic on Friday, and the play of the Czechs had much less to do with it than mistakes by the Croat fans and coaches.
The Czechs had little to offer in the first hour, and Croatia was a bit unlucky to not go up by more than two goals. Thinking they were well in control of the game, they opted to give Luka Modric a rest, bringing him off in the 61st minute. From then on, the game was competitive, and the Czech Republic hauled back a goal in the 76th minute.
But even then, Croatia was in control. Things didn't start to fall apart for them until their own supporters delayed the game by throwing flares onto the pitch. One exploded as a field attendant was trying to remove it, knocking him down. He was able to walk off the field under his own power, but hopefully he has no injuries at all.
Credit: user papa_poncho on r/soccer
The ambiguous amount of added stoppage time because of that incident was probably an emotional boost to the Czechs, who started launching balls forward in search of an equalizer. But ultimately, they didn't even have to earn it with great attacking play -- it was gifted to them. In the 93rd minute, Croat center back Domagoj Vida inexplicably put his hands up in the air while contesting a header and handled the ball. The referee had no choice but to give a penalty, which Tomas Necid converted to win a point for his team.
Credit: user 1hive on r/soccer
After the flare-throwing incident and the game ending, fighting continued, reportedly between Croatia fans who are members of different club ultra groups.
Crazy end. Croatians ruined it for own team. Proper kicking off. Told (and I'm in with them) that it's rival ultras. pic.twitter.com/i9KJ4oRvi7— Andy Mitten (@AndyMitten) June 17, 2016
And so Croatia leaves a game that they should have won easily with just one point. They took off their best midfielder, their center back gave away an awful penalty and their fans affected the game in a negative way too. Croatia didn't even make the Czech Republic earn their point. They fell apart in every way.