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  Results & Reviews: Match 24


Down and out
Second-string Czechs bounce Germany from Euro 2004

Three-time champion Germany suffered first round elimination from the European Championship for the second time in a row when Rudi Voeller's men lost 2-1 to the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

Despite taking a 21st minute lead through Michael Ballack, the Germans went down to a stunning free kick by Marek Heinz in the 30th and a tap-in by Milan Baros in the 77th.

The Germans, who finished last in their group four years ago, wound up third this time behind the group winning Czechs and second place Netherlands, which downed Latvia 3-0 in Braga.

"It's a huge disappointment," said Voeller said. "Two years ago we were so happy to be World Cup runner-ups, now we are out, that's bitter.

"Only in the second half we played the way I wanted, the
« Summary »

Group D 23 June 2004 1945 CET

José Alvalde, Lisbon Attendance 46,849


Ballack 21

Heinz 30
Baros 77
Germany (4-5-1) Kahn; Friedrich, Nowotny, Woerns, Lahm; Schneider, Hamann (Klose 79), Ballack, Schweinsteiger (Jeremies 85), Frings (Podolski 46); Kuranyi.
Czech Republic (4-4-2) Blazek; Jiranek, Bolf, Rozehnal, Mares; Plasil (Poborsky 70), Galasek (Hubschman 46), Tyce, Vachousek; Heinz, Lokvenc (Baros 59).
Referee Terje Hauge (NOR)

only thing missing were the goals. We only scored two goals, that's too few."

A crowd of 46,849 at Lisbon's Jose Alvalade Stadium saw the Czechs, already sure of a place in the last eight, field effectively their 'B' team against the Germans to keep the likes of Pavel Nedved, Tomas Rosicky and Jan Koller fresh for a quarterfinal game against Denmark.

"There is no 'B' team. They're all members of the Czech national squad. They played for their prestige. We took this match very seriously and I'd like to thank my players for a moral performance," said Czech coach Karel Bruckner.

Fielding nine of their backup players, the Czechs almost went ahead in the fourth minute.

Heinz floated in a free kick from the left, Vratislav Lokvenc got a touch and Martin Jiranek collided with German Oliver Kahn as he tried to force the ball home. Kahn recovered to grab the loose ball just two meters from the line.

The German buildups were ponderous and slow in the early stages but they applied some pressure which eventually brought a goal.

In the 19th minute, lone striker Kevin Kuranyi passed back to Ballack whose 25-meter shot took a deflection off a defender and flew over 'keeper Jaromir Blazek but landed onto the top of the net.

The Czechs half cleared the corner but then Jaroslav Plasil lost possession to Bernd Schneider on the left. His cross found Bastian Schweinsteiger who quickly pushed the ball back to Ballack whose hip high, first time, left foot shot flew into the top corner.

The lead lasted nine minutes before Philipp Lahm conceded a free kick five meters outside the German area and Heinz curled a stunning left-footed shot that bent up and round the wall and beat the diving Kahn at his near post.

The Germans sent on 18-year-old FC Koln striker Lukas Podolski for his debut in place of midfielder Torsten Frings at half time to give Kuranyi some support in attack. But the Germans almost went behind soon after the restart.

A right wing cross from the Czechs' halftime substitute, Tomas Hubschman, found Lokvenc unmarked in front of goal but the lanky striker was unable to get real power behind the close range shot and Kahn was able to block it.

At the other end, Schneider finished off a well worked end-to-end German move with a rising, left foot shot which was pushed over the top by Blazek. Then Ballack started and finished a move with a well timed header from Lahm's cross but it was straight at the 'keeper.

Ballack tried another long range effort in the 63rd minute with a 25-meter shot that just missed the far post. Then Kuranyi fell as he was about to meet a cross from Schweinsteiger in front of goal.

The Germans should have regained the lead in the 66th when Ballack hit the post from the edge of the area and the ball came to the unmarked Schneider whose follow up shot was punched away by the recovering 'keeper.

"Our greatest problem is that we don't score goals," said Ballack. "We gave it our best, we had many chances but it just wasn't enough. We have now to work hard to create a good team for the 2006 World Cup."

Schneider missed another great chance in the 71st when he met a leftwing cross from Lahm with his head but lifted the ball over the top with just Blazek to beat from six meters.

Then Hubschman headed off the line from Podolski as a corner caused chaos in the Czech defense with Blazek off his line and flapping at the ball.

Kuranyi was the next to have a clear heading chance in front of goal but placed his effort wide of the near post.

Seconds later the misses looked even worse when the Czechs broke away to score a second.

Baros collected a through ball and drifted between two German defenders to head for goal. Kahn raced off his line and blocked his first shot but the ball rebounded kindly for the Liverpool striker who placed it into an empty net.
- AP



 « Group Standings »

Group D

P W D L F A Pt
Czech Rep. 3 3 0 0 7 4 9
Netherlands 3 1 1 1 6 4 4
Germany 3 0 2 1 2 3 2
Latvia 3 0 1 2 1 5 1


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 « Match Stats »

1 Goals 2
1 Halftime 1
9 Corners 1
4 Offsides 0
20 Fouls 18
3 Yellow cards 1
0 Red cards 0
19 Free kicks 23
6 Shots off target 7
1 Woodwork 2
4 Saves 7
0 GL Clearances 1
58% Possession 42%



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