Czech Republic under-20 1-0 Mali under-20: Fulnek finds the winner in dull opening game

It was an underwhelming start to the prestigious youth tournament.

Czech Republic under-20 1-0 Mali under-20: Fulnek finds the winner in dull opening game
Image credit: Toulon Tournament
Czech Republic U20
1 0
Mali U20
Czech Republic U20: (4-1-4-1) Vorel; Sterba, Kasa, Stronati, Falta; Machuca; Fulnek (Buchvaldek 80+1'), Tetour (Kodes 57'), Sykora, Lutonsky (Preisler 65'); Chory (Pulkrab 72').
Mali U20: (4-2-3-1) Dibatere; Sacko, Toure, A. Diaby (P. Diaby 74'), Diakite (Traore 56'); Samassekou, Tianda (Sambague 68'); Diabate, Guilavogui (Baradji 51'), Coulibaly; Niane.
SCORE: 1-0, Fulnek 63'.
REFEREE: Yudai Yamamoto (JPN). Booked: Diakite (39'), Guilavogui (48'), Chory (71').

The 44th Toulon Tournament started with a 1-0 win for the Czech Republic, as they got the better of a physical Mali side.

Jan Sterba rattled the bar and Adama Niane had a good opportunity saved, in what were the two highlights of the first half.

However, there was one moment of quality when it really mattered as Jan Fulnek found the bottom corner to give the Czechs a slender win.

Dull first half

It was a rather scrappy and tense start to proceedings, in which neither side looked overly confident on the ball. The Czechs were determined to try and make their short corners work in the early minutes but they were clocked caught on to by their opponents. However, when they finally did put the ball in the box, Jan Sterba hit the bar with a clever flicked volley.

After that, Mali started to find their rhythm and Vojtěch Vorel was forced into a good save from Adama Niane. The Czechs felt hard done by when the striker was not penalised for a push in the build-up, though they breathed a sigh of relief when he fired over from Fousseni Diabate's cross.

Ousamane Dibatere, who had looked nervous from previous crosses, came to clear another dangerous delivery and only succeeded in punching it straight at Tomas Chory. The striker couldn't take advantage, however. It was a first half full of endavour and fight but lacking quality, as the teams went into the break all square.

Fulnek finds the winner

The Czehs began the second half in more lively fashion and Chory tested Dibatere early on, only to see the Mali stopper confidently claim the ball. Madigoundo Diakite could count himself lucky he wasn't sent off in the 10 minutes that followed the restart but Yudai Yamamoto spared him from a second yellow before he was taken off.

It was a dire game that looked like it would end goalless, but one moment of quality from Jakub Fulnek opened the scoring. A clever through ball to winger found him charging through on goal, and he needed just one touch to set himself and another to fire across goal and into the bottom corner past Dibatere.

Chory's driving run down the right surprised the Mali defence but none of his team-mates were able to take advantage. The sizeable striker was then lucky not to be sent-off for an elbow on Allassanne Diaby, but he was only given a yellow card. Neither side managed to find another goal in the latter stages, meaning the Czechs came away with the win to go top of their group.