BAKU (Reuters) - The Czech Republic may have left the European Championship in tears after their quarter-final exit at the hands of Denmark on Saturday but the country can be proud of the performances that brought them this far, coach Jaroslav Silhavy said.
The Czechs were looking to make the semi-finals for the first time since 2004 but two first-half goals were enough for Denmark to advance with a 2-1 win despite Patrik Schick's second half goal giving them a glimmer of hope.
"We are very disappointed. There were some tears... It wasn't easy, but I think we managed something that we can be proud of," Silhavy told reporters.
"I am very, very proud of my boys and I believe the fans that watched us also must appreciate our great performance. We fought till the very end. We wanted to equalise and we didn't. You could see how exhausted they were.
"I thanked my players... they put in great performances. Everybody had to give their all and we needed to work as a team and that's why we came this far. Right now we're very emotional and need to sleep it off, then we can evaluate many things."
Denmark's first goal came in the fifth minute to put the Czechs on the back foot but replays showed the corner from which Thomas Delaney scored with a header should never have been given as the ball came off a Danish player when it went out.
Silhavy refused to blame the officials for his side's defeat but said the game could have gone differently had they got the decision right.
"This was a mistake on the part of the referees, but it's not like we can change it," he said. "I'm not saying this was a decisive moment, but it did affect the game."
Two halftime substitutions to give the team an attacking impetus proved to be fruitful when Schick halved the lead inside four minutes but the Czechs soon ran out of gas.
"We sent in two forwards and the system changed to 4-2-4, we managed to score, put our opponents under pressure and create chances," Silhavy said. "Our opponents started getting back into the game after the first 10 minutes of the second half.
"Denmark are 10th in the FIFA ranking, we are 40th, so obviously it was going to be difficult."
But Silhavy felt the tournament was a "great success" for the Czechs who can learn from the experience for the next one.
"We had young players who could get a taste of a big tournament and they will be ready for future tournaments. We will also get back players who were injured and couldn't participate at this Euros," he added.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)