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Czechs cheered by brilliant Baroš

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

By Ladislav Josef

[1] The Czech Republic kept up the pressure on FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 1 rivals the Netherlands as Milan Baroš inspired them to their fifth successive victory against Andorra at the Comunal de Aixovall.

Jankulovski penalty

[2] After edging a seven-goal thriller against Finland on Saturday, the Czech side claimed three points much more convincingly after Marek Jankulovski broke the deadlock from the penalty spot just after the half hour. Baroš and Saturday's last-gasp hero Vratislav Lokvenc made it 3-0 either side of the interval before Tomáš Rosický completed an emphatic win with another spot-kick in added time.

Midfield shuffle

[3] Rosický, Baroš and Lokvenc were all also on target in the weekend win and Czech coach Karel Brückner made three changes from that side. David Rozehnal came in for the injured René Bolf in central defence, while Štepán Vachoušek and Roman Týce replaced midfield duo Libor Sionko and Jan Polák.

Spanish returnees

[4] The home side also made changes from the team that lost 2-1 to Armenia on Saturday with defender lldefons Lima and midfield player Marc Bernaus returning to the starting lineup after both opting to play for their Spanish second division clubs at the weekend.

Escura push

[5] The pair helped keep the well-fancied visitors at bay for much of the opening period before the Czech side finally created an opportunity on 31 minutes when Baroš was pushed by Jordi Escura inside the penalty area. Jankulovski made no mistake with the spot-kick and nine minutes later, Baroš made it two when he collected a Vachoušek pass and slotted in.

Baroš form

[6] The striker is currently enduring a barren spell for his club side Liverpool FC, with just one goal in seven games, but he is on inspired form at international level and this was his second goal in five days for the Czechs. The 23-year-old turned provider on 53 minutes, crossing for Lokvenc to head the Czechs into a seemingly unassailable three-goal lead.

Second spot-kick

[7] And so it proved, with the visitors continuing to press for the remainder of the second half, although they did not add a fourth until the 92nd-minute when Marc Pujol tripped Vachoušek and Rosický converted the penalty. The win kept the Czech Republic one point behind the Netherlands in the standings, while Andorra remained bottom of the section.

Tomáš Rosicky of the Czech Republic with Andorra's Toni Sivera