LONDON – It was a night of European soccer to forget for England, and one to remember for Andorra.
England conceded a late goal against the Czech Republic on Friday and paid the price with its first defeat in a qualifying game in 10 years, while France and Portugal made progress in their bids for places at next year’s European Championship.
As for Andorra, it ended a 56-match losing streak.
A goal five minutes from the end halted England’s unbeaten streak in qualifying for a major competition with the Czechs beating Gareth Southgate’s team 2-1. A victory in Prague would have secured a spot for England at the finals with three games to go.
Instead, England squandered a one-goal lead and lost its first match in European or World Cup qualifying since falling to Ukraine in 2009. That loss came with England already qualified for the 2010 World Cup. Its last meaningful defeat in qualifying was against Croatia in 2007.
“We didn’t play well enough, simple as that,” said Southgate.
Captain Harry Kane gave England the lead in the fifth minute from the penalty spot.
But Jakub Brabec leveled for the Czechs four minutes later and substitute Zdenek Ondrasek completed the comeback late with his first international goal. He scored with a low right-foot shot from inside the area.
“I just wanted to hit the ball right and put it in the net,” said Ondrasek, who plays for FC Dallas. “I saw tears in the eyes of my father probably for the first time in my life. It’s a great win and great feeling.”
England had won all four of its previous games in Group A. It is tied atop the standings with the Czechs on 12 points but has one more game to play. Group strugglers Bulgaria and Montenegro drew 0-0.
Top-ranked Belgium became the first team to qualify for next year’s tournament on Thursday.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 94th goal for Portugal to help the defending European champions brush aside Luxembourg 3-0 in Lisbon.
Ronaldo pounced on a bad pass near the area and chipped the goalkeeper in the 65th.
Bernardo Silva put Portugal in control from the 16th. With Portugal 2-0 ahead, substitute Goncalo Guedes added a third goal.
Ukraine kept its lead of Group B after midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi scored twice in a 2-0 victory over Lithuania.
World champion France and Turkey both took big steps in qualifying with wins which consolidated their Group H lead.
Olivier Giroud scored to help France earn a hard-fought 1-0 win at Iceland.
Andorra made history of its own in Group H with a 1-0 win over Moldova, the first time the tiny mountainous nation had avoided defeat in 57 European qualifiers.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5