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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Czechs count on tradition
EURO HISTORY
Karel Poborsky of the Czech Republic vaults a challenge from France's Bixente Lizarazu as Marcel Desailly looks on in their Euro 96  semi-final
Best performance: Winners (as Czechoslovakia) in 1976
Recent performances:
1980 3rd
1984-1992 Did not qualify 1996 Runners-up 2000 R1
Czechoslovakia claiming the 1976 European title ranks as one of the tournament's great shocks along with Denmark's triumph in 1992.

To boot, Czechoslovakia beat Germany in the final with possibly the cheekiest goal ever scored in a showpiece game.

The match had gone to penalties and Uli Hoeness was the first to crack when he skied his spot-kick over the bar.

But Antonin Panenka kept his cool with the most impudent of chips into the centre of goal to fool Sepp Maier.

Czechoslovakia had reached the final after a memorable 3-1 win over Holland in what was Johann Cruyff's last major international.

The match was played in a torrent of rain and each side had a man sent off in normal time.

The game went into extra-time at 1-1 and Holland reacted furiously after the Czechs took a controversial lead with Zdenek Nehoda's header.

They thought Cruyff had been fouled and Wim van Hanegem was sent off for his protestations.

The '76 final threw up yet more drama, with Czechoslovakia taking a two-goal lead against West Germany courtesy of goals from Jan Svehlik and Karol Dobias.

Dieter Muller got one back before half-time and West Germany grabbed a last-gasp equaliser when the outstanding Czech goalkeeper Ivo Viktor failed to stop Bernd Holzenbein's header.

The match went to penalties and Czechoslovakia ultimately triumphed thanks to Panenka's impudence.

Thirty years later, the Czech Republic surprisingly reached the final, though this time the Germans had their revenge.

It was the Czech Republic's first major championship and they reached the final almost without anyone noticing, emerging from a tough group that included Germany, Italy and Russia.

The Czechs then beat Portugal 1-0 thanks to Karel Poborsky's superb chip and edged past France on penalties in the semi-finals.

In the final at Wembley against Germany, the Czechs took a shock lead from the spot when Poborsky tumbled just inside the box and Patrik Berger converted the penalty.

But with 18 minutes to go German substitute Oliver Bierhoff rose to head home an equaliser to take the game to extra-time.

Four minutes later, Czech keeper Petr Kouba fumbled a mis-hit Bierhoff shot and it was all over as Germany won with a golden goal.





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