Tomáš Souček’s superb 2020/21 season continued as he netted his first international hat-trick for Czech Republic in Wednesday’s 6-2 FIFA World Cup qualifying win in Estonia.
The West Ham United star became just the third midfielder to score a hat-trick for Czech Republic or Czechoslovakia in a qualifier, following the great Antonín Panenka in 1975 and Peter Dubovský in 1993, as he netted three times in the space of 17 minutes in the Polish city of Lublin.
Souček’s perfect treble – a header, a 25-yard right-foot shot and a close-range left-foot finish – helped his nation get off to the best possible start to their Group E campaign as they seek to reach next summer’s finals in Qatar, all after Estonia had taken a shock early lead.
Speaking to the Czech FA website, the Hammers favourite, who retained his Czech Footballer of the Year award ahead of West Ham teammate Vladimír Coufal this week, was delighted to take the matchball home after another outstanding performance.
I appreciate all the goals, because they are goals for the national team
“I appreciate all the goals, because they are goals for the national team,” he said. “For the first, the combination with Sampi (Jankto) had worked several times already, I added the second goal after a shot from a distance and for the third I thank Kadeř (Kadeřábek) for setting me up. He went one-on-one with the goalkeeper, he could have shot easily, but he showed his teamwork and prepared a hat-trick for me.”
The Czechs turned things around in spectacular style after going behind, with Patrik Schick and Antonin Barak putting them ahead before two Souček goals put them 4-1 up by half-time. The 26-year-old completed his hat-trick three minutes after the break, before Jakub Jankto scored a sixth.
And the West Ham player says Jaroslav Šilhavý’s squad will take great confidence from Wednesday’s victory into their next qualifier at home to Belgium, No1 in the FIFA World Rankings and 3-1 winners over Wales in their opening qualifier, in Prague on Saturday evening.
“It was annoying [to concede the first goal],” Souček explained. “We wanted to score the first goal, but I knew the quality was on our side. Maybe it helped us on the contrary; we scored four quick goals in the half and deserved a victory.
“Of course, it's a very important win, a good three points. It was the first match, so it is always important to get off to a winning start. It's such a key to other matches. We now have three days to prepare for Belgium. We are very much looking forward to it. It will be the biggest match since qualifying for the European Championship.
"We needed to play a bit, take confidence for the next matches and also score a lot of goals to improve our goal difference because, in the World Cup qualifiers, that can be the deciding factor in the end.”