Martinez pleased with Czech Republic draw but wants more from Belgium

By Sports Desk March 27, 2021

Roberto Martinez was impressed by the way Belgium rallied to secure a 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with a "very good" Czech Republic side.

Lukas Provod put Czech Republic in front five minutes into the second half via a rasping drive from 20 yards out at Sinobo Stadium on Saturday.

Belgium hit back to salvage a point in Prague courtesy of Romelu Lukaku's seventh goal in his last six games for his country.

Czech Republic struck the woodwork twice and Kevin De Bruyne hit the post before Tomas Soucek's last-gasp header was cleared off the line by Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld.

The two nations have four points apiece after two Group E matches early in the battle to qualify for next year's tournament in Qatar, with Czech Republic top on goal difference.

Belgium manager Martinez was pleased with the way his team responded to falling behind, having also fought back to beat Wales 3-1 on Wednesday.

"We were put in difficulty by a very good Czech team and we had to adapt, to change our way of playing and responding," Martinez said.

"We were able to react and that's what I will remember from this match. We did not accept the situation after conceding the goal. We have to do better, of course, but I'm pretty happy with the team's reaction."

Martinez revealed Dries Mertens was withdrawn due to a shoulder injury, but was unsure over the extent of the damage.

The Spaniard refused to be drawn on whether in-form striker Lukaku and key midfielder De Bruyne will be rested when the top-ranked side in international football face Belarus on Tuesday.

"We will look at each case separately. We will first regenerate the bodies, because playing three matches in seven days is not easy." he said.

Related items

  • Promoted Wigan hopes to lure Reggae Boy Lowe back to club Promoted Wigan hopes to lure Reggae Boy Lowe back to club

    Wigan Athletic hopes to lure Jamaica international Jamal Lowe back to the DW Stadium following the team’s return to the English Championship.

    The 27-year-old recently secured promotion to the English Premier League with AFC Bournemouth where he scored 7 goals this season.  Following the team’s return to the top flight, however, doubts have been raised surrounding the likelihood of the player getting any significant game time.

    In fact, Lowe was left out of the squad for the team's crucial promotion fixture against Nottingham Forest, which may not augur well for the future.   

    Wigan in the meantime are preparing for life back in the second tier following their promotion from League One.  Lowe was a popular figure at Wigan having made some 46 appearances between 2019 and 2020.

    Wigan could do with some reinforcements to their squad as they continue to eventually plot a return to the Premier League.

  • PSG women's head coach Olle-Nicolle suspended over alleged 'inappropriate behaviour and remarks' PSG women's head coach Olle-Nicolle suspended over alleged 'inappropriate behaviour and remarks'

    Paris Saint-Germain women's head coach Didier Olle-Nicolle has been suspended following allegations of "inappropriate behaviour and remarks".

    The French club announced in a statement on Tuesday that Olle-Nicolle will not be involved in team duties while an internal investigation takes place.

    Olle-Nicolle, 61, has been in charge since July 2021.

    "Paris Saint-Germain has been made aware of inappropriate behaviour and remarks that members of its Women's Team have been exposed to," a PSG statement read.

    "These remarks and events, if confirmed, would be incompatible with Paris Saint-Germain’s sporting and human values.

    "Paris Saint-Germain is taking this situation seriously and intends to bring to light the reported events and remarks.

    "In order to protect the interests of all parties, the coach of the Women's Team has been suspended today, in agreement with Paris Saint-Germain. 

    "This is a fair and temporary measure. It will not prejudice the internal investigation that will be undertaken, nor impact the decisions that the club may be led to take."

    PSG are second in the French top flight and host leaders Lyon, who are five points better off, in their penultimate game of the campaign on Sunday.

    They won the French Cup earlier this month and also reached the last four of the Women's Champions League, where they were eliminated by eventual champions Lyon.

  • Europa Conference League win would 'finish a journey' for Roma, says Mourinho ahead of final Europa Conference League win would 'finish a journey' for Roma, says Mourinho ahead of final

    Jose Mourinho has said Wednesday's inaugural Europa Conference League final will be about "finishing a journey" as his Roma side prepare to take on Feyenoord.

    The Giallorossi beat Leicester City in the semi-finals and finished sixth in Serie A this season to qualify for next season's Europa League.

    Mourinho recently insisted that winning the Europa Conference League will mean as much to him as his Champions League titles with Porto and Inter.

    The game with their Dutch opponents will take place at Arena Kombetare in Tirana, Albania, and speaking at a media conference on Tuesday, Mourinho said winning the first edition of the competition was a key target for his team. 

    "To me this final is not about writing history," he said. "It's about finishing a journey we've been on this season and achieving one of the targets we've always had.

    "Me and my staff have been at Trigoria since the Torino game, preparing for this game. The squad look in good shape to me, ready for this."

    Attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has not played since suffering a muscle injury against Leicester last month, but Mourinho said the Armenian could be available on Wednesday. 

    "Mkhitaryan trained today with the squad for the first time. But it was only a light session," he said.

    "Still, it was important for him to see how he feels out there on the pitch. I will rely a lot on his view on whether he is ready or not tomorrow."

    The former Chelsea manager has often gone by the moniker "The Special One", following his confident self-tagging when he became boss at Stamford Bridge in 2004, but he insisted he is not the same person any more and just wants to help his team.

    "The Special One story is a nonsense," he added. "It's something you say in the beginning of your career. As you progress, mature, you start to think more about others than yourself. So that's an old story to me. Tomorrow, I will simply try to help."

    Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini also spoke to the media, and said he and his team-mates will be "focused and determined" to get the win.

    "Who wouldn't want to bring something home that will remain forever in the history of this club?" the 25-year-old said.

    "We will be focused and determined, as we always are. I hope that tomorrow will end up being one of the best days of my life."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.