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against France98 winner; a match with plenty
The Czech Republic will
consider themselves unlucky to lose to Holland in their opening game. Frank de Boer
stepped up to slot home an 89th minute penalty after his brother Ronald was deemed to have
had his shirt pulled by the Italian referee.
Pavel Srnicek, the Czech goalkeeper, claims
Nemec was harshly penalised as the ball was nowhere near the Dutch player at the time.
Ronald de Boer acted up with a nice back somersault, of almost gold medal quality.
Pierluigi Collina then made himself even more
popular in Prague when he ran over to the sidelines to show Radoslav Latal the red card.
The Czechs came to this tournament with ten
wins out of ten, in their qualifying group. They can not afford to lose against France and
need to get back to winning ways again.
If they have their eyes on the major prize,
then they'll need to checkmate Zidane and co.; who looked stronger and faster against
Denmark than the France who beat Brazil 3-0, to take the World Cup down the Champs
France have so much talent
and there's a real flow to their game. The pace of Henry and Anelka up front is astounding
and everytime Zidane has the ball their opponents are in trouble.
France can be beaten, as they usually take a
while to get focused. Denmark had a few chances early on but their strikers weren't fast
enough. The French know they have problems early, as Slovenia also proved in a recent
friendly -- going two goals up in the first ten minutes, and will be working to improve
their concentration from the start. When France do get into gear, it seems there's no
Koller and Nedved, if he's fit, will be the
ones to trouble France in and around their penalty area. The Czechs will need to strike a
double whammy early or hope that it's their turn for a last minute penalty.
2-Tomas Repka, 13-Radek Bejbl, 19-Karel Rada, 21-Petr Gabriel
4-Pavel Nedved, 7-Jiri Nemec, 8-Karel Poborsky, 11-Tomas Rosicky
10-Jan Koller, 17-Vladimir Smicer
15-Lilian Thuram, 8-Marcel Desailly, 5-Laurent Blanc, 2-Vincent Candela
17-Emmanuel Petit, 7-Didier Deschamps, 10-Zinedine Zidane, 4-Patrick Vieira
12-Thierry Henry, 9-Nicolas Anelka
Referee: Graham Poll
The Czechs make an active start , but it's soon the French who are in control. Zidane to
Henry, who gets to the Czech goal-line. There's a hole in the defence.
Then in the 7th minute a sloppy back-pass from
Petr Gabriel lets in Henry. The Arsenal player runs on goal to coolly put
France in the lead.
The Czechs didn't lose their heads, tightened
up at the back and made a few attacks of their own through Koller and Poborsky; Blanc and
Desailly being called on to produce their best.
Zidane seemed a little contained, but still
there were moments. Anelka came close with a glancing header in front of Srnicek in the
16th minute, but the Czechs were determined to get back in the game themselves.
In the 35th minute Poborsky
leveled the scores from the spot. Smicer, on a run, gets flattened on the edge of the
area. The English referee has a word with his linesman and the nod is given. He'll need
that for his UEFA report.
In the last five minutes of the first half,
Henry made a few solo runs, but Srnicek denied France the chance to take the lead again.
Djorkaeff comes on for Emmanuel Petit at the start of the second-half and soon puts France
in the lead.
On the hour, Henry is being closely watched as
he enters the Czech area. He manages to hook the ball around the defense with his left
foot. The ball is in space, no-one going for it except Djorkaeff; from
the right. The Kaiserslautern player, who helped to knock Tottenham out of the UEFA Cup,
strikes it first time -- low, past Srnicek.
The Czechs started to lose their cool and a
number of players entered the English referee's book, among them substitute Jankulovski;
only on the field for five minutes.
From Czech set pieces, Koller headed over the
bar and a few minutes later actually hit the woodwork, but the ball wouldn't go in for the
Euro 96 finalists.
Czech Republic 1 -- France 2
Man of the Match:
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Fri. 16th June:
Game 12 Denmark - Holland