Czech Republic picked apart by Turkey in whimpering exit from Euro 2016
It should've been so simple. After Czech Republic came back from 2-0 down to rescue a point against Croatia, it seemed the next round was just a formality. After all, Turkey had looked rather dreadful up until this point, and the Czechs were on a high.
Sure, there was no Tomas Rosicky, but at least Borek Dockal was back, Tomas Necid had returned to the starting XI and the not-so-limber David Limbersky was finally benched.
But manager Pavel Vrba hadn't counted on Emre Mor. The 18-year-old, making his first Euro start, made short work of the weakness found on the Czechs' left side, blazing down the flank to send in a cross for Burak Yilmaz. It was 1-0 by the 10th minute.
While Czech Republic did their best to get back into the match, their best simply wasn't good enough. The organisation instilled by Vrba, so previously touted prior to the tournament, just wasn't there, and they couldn't produce enough individual brilliance to make up for its absence.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Petr Cech, 5.5 -- Can his errors be blamed for the goals? No. But the veteran seemed to have little ability to marshal his defense throughout the match, and his poor distribution stalled at least two attacks before they began, with his balls sent directly out of play.
DF Pavel Kaderabek, 6 -- The young Hoffenheim full-back was finally set free in the final match, and did his best to live up to expectations, getting in crosses and sending in shots from difficult angles. But Volkan Babacan was up to the challenge between the Turkey posts.
DF Tomas Sivok, 6.5 -- The defensive stalwart bears little blame for either of the Turkey goals, and earns extra credit for having his header hit the post. Not enough extra credit to advance his side to the next round, mind.
DF Roman Hubnik, 6 -- The majority of the blame for the first goal wasn't his, as he was left stranded, and making the choice to close down Arda Turan was hardly foolish. He performed as admirably as might be expected.
DF Daniel Pudil, 4 -- Czech fans had been begging for Limbersky to be replaced, but Pudil failed to strengthen the side's weakest link. From the start, Turkey targeted the Czechs' left, and it paid off quickly. Pudil was entirely absent when Mor flew downfield, leaving Hubnik unable to stop Yilmaz's goal.
MF David Pavelka, 5 -- It was the 25-year-old's first appearance at the tournament and only his 10th cap, so not much could've been expected. Still, it would've been nice for him to be remembered for more than a yellow card.
MF Vladimir Darida, 6 -- With Rosicky unavailable, Darida had many more opportunities to shine. Unfortunately for the Czechs, despite getting off quite a few decent shots, none of that glitter turned into an actual goal.
MF Jaroslav Plasil, 4.5 -- Barely five minutes into the match and the 34-year-old had already fallen over. That more or less sums up his campaign. He was at least partly to blame for letting Mor get into position on the first goal, proving once again he's incapable of dealing with any sort of pace. Points for testing Babacan? When weighed against the rest of his match, they're undeserved.
MF Borek Dockal, 5.5 -- A key player in Czech Republic's qualifying campaign, Dockal had been sorely missed for much of the match. Unfortunately, it never quite gelled for him in this contest.
MF Ladislav Krejci, 6.5 -- The Sparta Prague youngster has been one of the few bright spots in every Czech match, always eager to get forward and looking to play the perfect ball. Sure, it doesn't always work, but more often than not he's making choices that bolster the Czech attack.
FW Tomas Necid, 6 -- Kudos to Vrba for bringing Necid back to the starting XI, but using him as part of a front three rather than a target man perhaps didn't bring out his best. Still, Necid managed to challenge Babacan a time or two, and at least looked determined to get his side into the match.
FW Milan Skoda, 5.5 -- Replaced Pavelka in the 57th minute, when Vrba realised his side needed two goals to avoid being sent home. The coach had been relying on his super-sub to get the job done, but Skoda couldn't summon up enough magic this time around.
MF Josef Sural, NR -- Replaced Dockal in the 71st minute.
MF Daniel Kolar, NR -- Replaced Plasil in the 90th minute for his only appearance at Euro 2016.
Kirsten Schlewitz is ESPN FC's Czech Republic blogger at Euro 2016. Twitter: @kdschlewitz