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Halftime criticism paid off, says Czech coach Vrba

Football Soccer - Czech Republic v Croatia - EURO 2016 - Group D - Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-?tienne, France - 17/6/16 Czech Republic head coach Pavel Vrba REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach Livepic
Football Soccer - Czech Republic v Croatia - EURO 2016 - Group D - Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-?tienne, France - 17/6/16Czech Republic head coach Pavel Vrba REUTERS/Kai PfaffenbachLivepic

By Zoran Milosavljevic

ST ETIENNE, France (Reuters) - A stinging remark about the Czech Republic's first-half performance against Croatia paid off as they snatched a late 2-2 draw in their troubled Euro 2016 group D clash on Friday, coach Pavel Vrba said.

The Czechs had been dismal in the first half and went into the break a goal down, leading to a stern rebuke from Vrba.

"I told my players at halftime that if they didn't feel like playing they should not have come here," said Vrba.

"We were disorganised and lacking any inspiration in the opening period. After the break we pressed the Croatians more aggressively.

"We didn't let our heads drop and the substitutions were also a factor."

After Croatia had doubled their lead in the second-half, goals from Czech substitutes Pavel Skoda and Tomas Necid kept alive their team's hopes of reaching the last 16 in a match that was briefly stopped after trouble among the Croatian fans.

The Czechs have one point from two games following their opening 1-0 defeat by holders Spain, meaning they must beat Turkey in their final game in Lens on Tuesday to have any chance of progressing to the last 16.

Vrba will have to sweat on the fitness of captain Tomas Rosicky who played with a thigh strain.

"We don't know if he will be fit," said the coach. "I don't know if tonight's result is a miracle but the important thing is that we still have our fate in our own hands and high hopes that we can beat the Turks."

(Editing by Ian Chadband)

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