Football club Sparta Prague down Southampton, advance in Europa League

Photo: CTK

It took 33 years for Sparta to get a win against Southampton but at home at Letná stadium on Thursday the Prague club finally did it. A lone goal in the first half, which went unanswered, means that Sparta has extended its Europa League campaign in the spring.

Costa Nhamoinesu, photo: CTK
Both David Lafata and Bořek Dočkal are names to depend on at Sparta Prague: on Thursday it was Dočkal who earned the accolades on a set-piece sending the ball onto the outstretched foot of Costa who drove the ball home. Here is how announcers on BT called the play:

“Sent in towards Costa… that’s a super goal! Beautifully worked! …You could see it unfolding in slow motion.”

Sparta are on 12 points in their group, followed by Hapoel Beer-Sheva, second, Southampton, third on seven points; FC Milan, with just three, are out of the competition.

Bořek Dočkal, photo: CTK
Sparta coach David Holoubek has gone from strength-to-strength since taking over at the club, getting four wins in a row in the Europa League. He described the mood after Thursday’s win.

“Of course it’s pleasant but I am well aware that this kind of fame is fragile and that you can have two or three defeats and everything is different.”

Things looked far bleaker initially at the start of Sparta’s Europa League campaign, when, unlike on Thursday, they received a drubbing from Southampton, losing 3:0. But since, the club hasn’t looked back: defeating Inter, Beer-Sheva twice and the English club in their second match up. The coach joked about what had changed to turn the team’s earlier flagging fortunes around.

“The trainer, for one! We worked on defence a lot we knew that that would be hard. We had few players and we knew that the defence would be crucial.”

David Holoubek (center), photo: CTK
Bořek Dočkal described the result as almost miraculous, given that Sparta has nine from the regular roster on the injured list, making room for new up and coming but not nearly as experienced youngsters.

“When you consider how we were plagued by injuries and the clubs we faced, I think it is almost unbelievable. I think that not only Sparta but all of Czech football should be proud.”