« Home | Turkey 0-1 Denmark » | Morocco 2-1 Switzerland » | Belgium 0-2 France » | Croatia 1-2 Germany » | Spain 2-1 Peru » | Greece 2-0 Bulgaria » | Portugal 1–1 England » | Netherlands 1-0 United States » | Figo to reatch 100 Caps » | Portugal 4-1 Sweden - U21 » 

Thursday, February 19, 2004 

Italy 2-2 Czech Republic

Tomáš Rosický's 88th-minute equaliser extended the Czech Republic's unbeaten run to 20 games in Palermo only three minutes after Antonio Di Natale seemed to have won the game for the home side.

The visitors were without Petr Cech, Tomáš Ujfaluši, Milan Baroš and Vladimír Šmicer, but started in lively fashion and the effervescent midfield trio of Rosický, Pavel Nedved and Karel Poborský immediately put Giovanni Trapattoni's new-look defence under pressure.

In the seventh minute, Nedved was only denied by Juventus FC team-mate Gianluigi Buffon, and soon after Poborský collected a perfectly-weighted through-ball from Rosický only for his effort to be cleared off the line.

Poborský, in fact, was a constant threat throughout the opening phase and gave 32-year-old debutant Stefano Bettarini a torrid time in defence. But Italy survived and gradually started to carve out some chances of their own.

Del Piero had already threatened Jaromír Blazek in the Czech goal when Italy took the lead in the 14th minute as he raced clear on the left and his deflected cross was headed on to the post by Christian Vieri. Alessandro Del Piero hit the post again with the follow-up and finally Vieri converted with Blazek stranded.

Despite that blow the Czechs continued to create chances. Marek Jankulovski shot wide from 25 metres while Jan Koller also went close. Their pressure led to further chances for Nedved and Rosický before the equaliser finally arrived in the 42nd minute. Poborský swung in a free-kick and Sparta forward Jirí Štajner rose to head in from close range.

Trapattoni made seven changes at half-time, only Bettarini, Simone Perrotta, Stefano Fiore and Del Piero - captain for the day in the absence of Fabio Cannavaro - surviving the cull. Czech coach Karel Brückner, meanwhile, made six alterations to his starting formation and the intensity of the game dropped at the start of the second half as the teams struggled to settle in.

There were chances at both ends, however, as Marco Delvecchio nearly connected with a Massimo Oddo cross while, at the other end, Vratislav Lokvenc steered his header goalbound, but without troubling substitute Francesco Toldo in the Italian goal.

Marek Heinz then twice tested Toldo with low shots but the FC Internazionale goalkeeper was equal to the challenge and saved smartly on both occasions. Italy responded with Bernardo Corradi finding Delvecchio in the area with a cushioned header but Antonín Kinský, on for Blazek, collected the ball.

The game seemed to be heading for a 1-1 draw until the recalled Di Natale headed in Carlo Nervo's cross. But the Czechs are out of the habit of losing, and Rosický's beautiful curling effort gave Toldo no chance and reinforced the impression that Brückner's team will be a real threat this summer.

Source: Uefa.com


Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates