Petr Cech praised his Czech Republic team-mates for an “exceptional” defensive display against Spain, even though they were unable to hold on for a draw in their opening Euro 2016 fixture.
The holders struggled to break down their stubborn Group D opponents until defender Gerard Pique steered a header beyond goalkeeper Cech in the 86th minute.
Vladimir Darida had a late chance to equalise in Toulouse, only for his well-struck volley to be kept out by David de Gea in stoppage time.
“It’s always tough with four minutes to go, but I thought we did exceptionally well for 86 minutes. We were constantly under pressure but we managed to block them,” Cech told UEFA.com
“But their talent and quality is huge and they got the goal.
“I made some saves, it’s true, I’m pleased with my performance but I thought our defence was exceptional, we made some blocks and filled the spaces.
“But this team is very difficult, they have such quality and invention. You have to defend very well.”
Czech Republic coach Pavel Vrba felt his team played at their “maximum level” against tough opponents, although their efforts went unrewarded due to Pique’s late winner.
“We knew this is a strong opponent, they were favourites and are better in possession and creating chances,” he said.
“It’s disappointing to concede so late on. We could have scored ourselves, we had chances to score – which doesn’t often happen against Spain.
“But we played at our maximum level and it’s a shame not to get a point at least, because it would have been good for us.”