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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
How they qualified: Czech Republic
Apart from France, the Czech Republic were statistically the most impressive performers in the qualifiers - securing their Euro 2004 berth with an almost unblemished record.

CZECH REP'S PATH TO EURO 2004
Czechs celebrate victory over Austria
Results
12.10.02: Moldova (a) 2-0
16.10.02: Belarus (h) 2-0
29.03.03: Holland (a) 1-1
02.04.03: Austria (h) 4-0
11.06.03: Moldova (h) 5-0
06.09.03: Belarus (a) 3-1
10.09.03: Holland (h) 3-1
11.10.03: Austria (a) 3-2

Many would say the eastern European team were pitted in a tougher group - finding themselves up against Holland and Austria.

The Czechs were going through a transitional period, having failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup with a relatively old squad.

New coach Karel Bruckner introduced goalkeeper Petr Cech and striker Milan Baros, who was soon to become a Liverpool player. Both footballers played key roles in their side's campaigns.

Bruckner's side began with two comfortable victories over Moldova away and then at home to Belarus.

Their first big test came against the Dutch in Rotterdam. Holland took the lead when the Manchester United hitman Ruud van Nistelrooy converted a penalty just before the half-time interval.

But their tall forward Jan Koller levelled the scores after the interval, with a close-range finish.

Easy wins over Austria, Moldova and Belarus followed, before they were faced with the Dutch challenge again.

This time though it was on their own patch.

They began the match in fifth gear and never relented. Matters were helped in the 14th minute when Edgar Davids was sent off following a foul on Karel Poborsky.

Poborsky himself added a second before Rafael van der Vaart pulled one back for the Dutch.

A frenetic last third of the match saw Holland pour forward, but they left themselves exposed at the back which the impressive Baros seized on in stoppage time.

The win meant the Cezchs qualified automatically, and they put the icing on the cake in their final qualifier with a 3-2 win in Austria.

GROUP THREE TABLE
Team P W D L GF GAPts
Czech Republic 8 7 1 0 23 5 22
Holland 8 6 1 1 20 6 19
Austria 8 3 0 5 12 14 9
Moldova 8 2 0 6 5 19 6
Belarus 8 1 0 7 4 20 3





Links to more Czech Rep stories


 

CZECH PLAYERS TO WATCH
 


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