Euro 2004: Germany vs. Czech Republic: 1-2
Germany 1, Czech Republic 2
Czech 'B' team sends Germans home
Three-time champion Germany suffered first round elimination from the European Championship for the second time in a row when Rudi Voeller's men lost 2-1 to the Czech Republic on Wednesday, despite taking a 21st minute lead through Michael Ballack.
LISBON, Portugal (AP)— Three-time champion Germany suffered first round elimination from the European Championship for the second time in a row when Rudi Voeller's men lost 2-1 to the Czech Republic on Wednesday.
Despite taking a 21st minute lead through Michael Ballack, the Germans went down to a stunning free kick by Marek Heinz in the 30th and a tap-in by Milan Baros in the 77th.
The Germans, who finished last in their group four years ago, wound up third this time behind the group winning Czechs and second place Netherlands, which downed Latvia 3-0 in Braga.
"We gave it our best but it just wasn't enough," said Ballack.
A crowd of 46,849 at Lisbon's Jose Alvalade Stadium saw the Czechs, already sure of a place in the last eight, field effectively their 'B' team against the Germans to keep the likes of Pavel Nedved, Tomas Rosicky and Jan Koller fresh for a quarterfinal game against Denmark.
Fielding nine of their backup players, the Czechs almost went ahead in the fourth minute.
Heinz floated in a free kick from the left, Vratislav Lokvenc got a touch and Martin Jiranek collided with German Oliver Kahn as he tried to force the ball home. Kahn recovered to grab the loose ball just two meters from the line.
The German buildups were ponderous and slow in the early stages but they applied some pressure which eventually brought a goal.
In the 19th minute, lone striker Kevin Kuranyi passed back to Ballack whose 25-meter shot took a deflection off a defender and flew over 'keeper Jaromir Blazek but landed onto the top of the net.
The Czechs half cleared the corner but then Jaroslav Plasil lost possession to Bernd Schneider on the left. His cross found Bastian Schweinsteiger who quickly pushed the ball back to Ballack whose hip high, first time, left foot shot flew into the top corner.
The lead lasted nine minutes before Philipp Lahm conceded a free kick five meters outside the German area and Heinz curled a stunning left-footed shot that bent up and round the wall and beat the diving Kahn at his near post.
The Germans sent on 18-year-old FC Koln striker Lukas Podolski for his debut in place of midfielder Torsten Frings at half time to give Kuranyi some support in attack. But the Germans almost went behind soon after the restart.
A right wing cross from the Czechs' halftime substitute, Tomas Hubschman, found Lokvenc unmarked in front of goal but the lanky striker was unable to get real power behind the close range shot and Kahn was able to block it.
At the other end, Schneider finished off a well worked end-to-end German move with a rising, left foot shot which was pushed over the top by Blazek. Then Ballack started and finished a move with a well timed header from Lahm's cross but it was straight at the 'keeper.
Ballack tried another long range effort in the 63rd minute with a 25-meter shot that just missed the far post. Then Kuranyi fell as he was about to meet a cross from Schweinsteiger in front of goal.
The Germans should have regained the lead in the 66th when Ballack hit the post from the edge of the area and the ball came to the unmarked Schneider whose follow up shot was punched away by the recovering 'keeper.
Schneider missed another great chance in the 71st when he met a leftwing cross from Lahm with his head but lifted the ball over the top with just Blazek to beat from six meters.
Then Hubschman headed off the line from Podolski as a corner caused chaos in the Czech defense with Blazek off his line and flapping at the ball.
Kuranyi was the next to have a clear heading chance in front of goal but placed his effort wide of the near post.
Seconds later the misses looked even worse when the Czechs broke away to score a second.
Baros collected a through ball and drifted between two German defenders to head for goal. Kahn raced off his line and blocked his first shot but the ball rebounded kindly for the Liverpool striker who placed it into an empty net.
Germany: Oliver Kahn; Arne Friedrich, Jens Nowotny, Christian Woerns, Bernd Schneider, Torsten Frings (sub: Lukas Podolski 46th), Dieter Hamann (Miroslav Klose 79th), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Jens Jeremies 85th), Philipp Lahm, Michael Ballack, Kevin Kuranyi.
Czech Republic: Jaromir Blazek; Martin Jiranek, Rene Bolf, David Rozehnal, Pavel Mares, Jaroslav Plasil (Karel Poborsky 70th), Tomas Galasek (Tomas Hubschman 46th), Roman Tyce, Stepan Vachousek, Marek Heinz, Vratislav Lokvenc (Milan Baros 59th).
Referee: Terje Hauge, Norway.