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Czechs get off the mark

Saturday, 9 October 2004

[1] Jan Koller's first-half penalty was enough to end Romanias unbeaten run and give the Czech Republic their first three points of the FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 1 campaign.

Czechs dig deep

[2] After dominating the first half with an impressive display of pace and movement, courtesy especially of Milan Baroš, the hosts were forced to work hard to protect their advantage after the break as Romania reorganised.

Home absentees

[3] The Romanians were afforded the luxury of welcoming back captain Adrian Mutu after he sat out the 5-1 win in Andorra. The home side, meanwhile, began the game looking to make up for the ground lost on their rivals following their 1-0 defeat in the Netherlands. And their cause was not aided by injury to the inspirational Karel Poborský or Pavel Nedved's retirement from international football.

Baroš electrifying

[4] The Czech Republic's hunger was evident from the kick-off, and it was soon clear that Baroš was to play a key part in proceedings. Time and again he broke into space as his markers failed to match the strikers pace. Only wayward finishing prevented him from opening the scoring.

Koller spot on

[5] On eight minutes the Liverpool FC man burst past Cosmin Barcauan into the box, but fired high over Bogdan Lobont's goal. And on 40 minutes he chipped too high after bursting clear. By then, though, his side were one up, Jan Koller slotting in from the spot after Florin Soava had tangled with Martin Jiránek at the back post in pursuit of Marek Heinzs free-kick.

Romania regroup

[6] The home side were probably glad to have limited the scoring to just one at half-time. But after the break they emerged revitalised, Daniel Pancu immediately testing Petr Cech in the home goal. The visitors also sought to stem Barošs supply lines, limiting the Czechs to only the occasional foray up front. But Romania continued to find chances of their own hard to come by.

Heinz unlucky

[7] It was the Czech Republics Heinz who came closest to adding to the scoreline on the hour, his stretching shot bouncing just wide after weaving into the Romanian box. And as the game petered out, the Czechs defended deeper and deeper, but never looked like relinquishing their lead.

Armenia next

[8] Both teams travel to Armenia for their next gamethe Czechs on Wednesday, Romania on 11 November. And, thanks to yellow cards picked up tonight, the Czech Republics Baroš and Romania's Pancu and Adrian Iencsi will sit their respective matches out through suspension.

Jan Koller scored for the Czechs