Prague, Czech Republic – Slavia Prague came from behind last thursday night to beat Belgian side Genk 1-4 in a stunning victory that takes them through to the round of 16 of the Europa League. Earlier that day, Viktoria Plzeň had crashed out of the competition after losing 3-0 in Zagreb in a disappointing evening.
It is the first time in 19 years that Slavia Prague has won a knockout game in a European competition. Now the last team from Central Europe left in the competition, the Czech First League leaders will play Sevilla in the next round. The difficult first leg will take place in Spain on Thursday 7 March, with the return scheduled for the following Thursday.
The evening hadn’t started well for Czech football fans as First League champions Viktoria Plzeň were comfortably beaten by Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb 3-0, effectively knocking them out of the competition. It hadn’t started well either for the current Czech First League leaders Slavia Prague who conceded early in Belgium. But goals by Vladimír Coufal, Ibrahim-Benjamin Traoré and captain Milan Škoda sealed a superb comeback victory.
In recent years, Slavia Prague and Viktoria Plzeň have been challenging the rule of Sparta Prague, who is the most successful team in Czech First League history, having won more than half of league titles since 1993. Since Sparta Prague last won the league in 2014, Viktoria Plzeň were crowned champions in 2015, 2016 and 2018, while Slavia Prague, who are owned by Chinese conglomerate CEFC China Energy since 2015, won it in 2017 and finished second in 2018.
Last Sunday, Viktoria Plzeň, who are currently second in the Czech First League, beat league leaders Slavia Prague 2-0 in a top-of-the-table showdown, thereby reducing the gap to merely three points. Sparta Prague are currently fifth.