Slavia restore pride and take valuable point in draw with Arsenal

Slavia - Arsenal, photo: CTK

Two weeks ago the Czech football club Slavia Prague suffered a humiliating 7:0 hammering at the hands of Arsenal, in one of the heaviest defeats in the history of the Champions League. On Wednesday night Slavia had the chance to make amends when they played host to the famous London club in Prague. And make amends they did, turning in a creditable performance, and winning a valuable point.

Zdenek Senkerik and William Gallas, photo: CTK
Slavia Prague's guests at a sold-out Evzen Rosicky stadium in Prague on Wednesday night were Arsenal, who two weeks ago humbled the Czech side with a 7:0 battering in London. Arsenal only needed a point in the Group H tie to qualify for the knock-out stages and rested several stars, fielding a number of young players in their stead. Gunners captain William Gallas warned them Slavia would give them a tough time:

"I just told them before the game started to be careful because it would be a difficult game today. We won seven-nil at home and today it would be a different game, because they would want to play a big game in front of their fans. I said, be ready for a fight."

In driving rain, a fight is just what Slavia gave the Londoners. Overall the Czech side had the better of the chances, but failed to capitalise on them, with the game ending 0:0. Slavia's Vladimir Smicer, whose last Champions League game had been the famous final of 2005, was satisfied with that result:

Alexandre Song and Vladimir Smicer, photo: CTK
"I'm just happy we drew, because we know the quality of the Arsenal team. We knew they had a lot of changes in their team and we knew we had a chance...we are happy, you know. I think a draw was a fair result."

Your fans seemed to react as if you had won the game, they seemed so happy after the match.

"Yes, of course, because after a heavy defeat, seven-nil, they wanted to see our team performing a little better, at least not to lose, and that's why they were so happy."

The point won on Wednesday (the first any Czech club has ever taken from Arsenal) could prove very valuable for Slavia. Third spot in the group stages means a place in the UEFA Cup and the Czechs, with four points, are in a good position to go through at the expense of Steaua Bucharest, with none. Qualification for the UEFA Cup would surely count as success for Slavia, in their first ever Champions League campaign.