The Czech Republic coasted to a comfortable 3-0 win over Denmark to take their place in the semi-finals of Euro 2004.
Two goals from Milan Baros and another from Jan Koller in a 15 minute spell early in the second half killed off Denmark’s hopes in a match which never really burst into life. The margin of victory flattered the Czechs somewhat, as Denmark had looked the better team before the break, but Morten Olsen’s team had no answer once they had fallen behind.
The early chances fell to the Czech Republic and Nedved brought the first save of the match from Thomas Sorenson when he attempted to surprise the Danish keeper with a near post free kick. Baros sliced a volleyed opportunity and Koller headed over when found by Poborsky but otherwise, the goal threat from the favourites was minimal.
Once the Danes had settled they began to establish a rhythm with their passing and found some space on the flanks where the pacy duo Gronkjaer and Jorgensen lurked. However, despite enjoying plenty of possession the Danes were unable to penetrat, and time and again the final ball from the flanks drifted aimlessly into the Czech penalty area.
The best chance for Denmark fell to Poulsen but after cleverly finding space in the penalty area, he saw his shot was blocked.
At half-time, Czech coach Karel Bruckner had his work cut out. His team had performed listlessly, showing none of the verve that had characterised their earlier displays, with Nedved and Rosicky particularly anonymous.
Whatever advice Bruckner gave at the interval, soon yielded results. On 49 minutes, a Karel Poborsky corner was headed home by Jan Koller.
On 63 minutes the lead was doubled when Poborsky picked out Baros and the Liverpool striker finished with a deft chip over Sorenson.
With two minutes, Baros scored his second of the match and his fifth of the tournament when he raced onto a through ball from Nedved and smashed the ball emphatically past the Danish keeper.
As a contest the game was over and although Denmark came close on a number of occasions, most notably through substitute Madsen, they seemed to accept that they were chasing a lost cause.
So, the Czechs march on and although not at their best tonight, they look the team to beat. Even during this below-par performance, they rarely looked like conceding against Denmark. To play badly and still win is often cited as the hallmark of a good team. In which case, this 3-0 victory will sound as a warning to the remaining three teams in the competition.
Czech Republic 3-0 Denmark
Czech Republic: Jan Koller 49, Milan Baros 63, 65
Czech Republic:1-Petr Cech; 13-Martin Jiranek (2-Zdenek Grygera 39), 21-Tomas Ujfalusi, 5-Rene Bolf (22-David Rozehnal 65), 6-Marek Jankulovski; 8-Karel Poborsky, 4-Tomas Galasek, 10-Tomas Rosicky, 11-Pavel Nedved; 15-Milan Baros (18-Marek Heinz 70), 9-Jan Koller.
Denmark: 1-Thomas Sorensen; 6-Thomas Helveg, 4-Martin Laursen, 3-Rene Henriksen, 2-Kasper Bogelund; 7-Thomas Gravesen, 17-Christian Poulsen, 14-Claus Jensen (21-Peter Madsen 71); 8-Jesper Gronkjaer (19-Dennis Rommedahl 77), 10-Martin Joergensen (23-Peter Lovenkrands 85), 9-Jon Dahl Tomasson.
Referee: Valentin Ivanov (Russia)