Euro Flashback: Czechs cruise into the semis
Throughout Euro 2020, we have been looking back at classic games from previous tournaments. Today's featured clash is the Czech Republic’s comprehensive 3-0 victory over Denmark in the Euro 2004 quarter-finals.
A golden generation
The Czech Republic’s progress to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 has been something of a surprise — but their impressive showing in Portugal 17 years ago was far less shocking.
Their class of 2004 was packed full of household names and star quality. From veterans Jan Koller and Karel Poborsky, to midfield aces Pavel Nedved, Vladimir Smicer and Tomas Rosicky, the squad was bursting with talent.
Throw in a young Peter Cech in goal and Milan Baros up front and it is easy to see why the Czechs enjoyed such a successful tournament.
Path to the quarters
There was pressure on the Czech Republic to improve on recent performances, especially with the talent at their disposal.
After the high of reaching the Euro 96 final, they had failed to qualify for the following two World Cups and exited Euro 2000 at the group stage.
Luckily, Karel Bruckner’s men had no such trouble at Euro 2004, topping a group containing the Netherlands, Germany and Latvia with maximum points.
With Denmark on the horizon, the Czechs were on a roll and full of confidence.
Baros steals the show
Having edged ahead of Italy to qualify from Group C on goal difference, the Danish vintage of 2004 were no soft touch.
AC Milan attacker Jon Dahl Tomasson had scored against Bulgaria before netting a brace in the meeting with Sweden.
But it was Czech forward Baros who proved to be the match-winner in Porto.
He took his tournament tally to five goals — enough to win the Golden Boot that summer — with two sensational second-half strikes to eliminate Denmark.
A comprehensive victory
Colossal 6ft 8in targetman Koller put the Czech Republic into the lead by doing what he did best — heading home a Poborsky corner four minutes into the second half.
Then it was over to Baros to put the game out of sight.
First, he dinked a wonderful finish over Thomas Sorensen after a pinpoint through ball from Poborsky in the 63rd minute. And then he powered a Nedved pass into the top-left corner two minutes later.
So close but yet so far
After such an impressive group stage campaign and a comprehensive victory over Denmark, hopes of reaching a second European Championship final in a decade were high in the Czech Republic.
A semi-final clash with unfancied Greece offered the perfect opportunity for progress but Bruckner’s side were ultimately undone by the competition’s eventual winners.
An extra-time goal from Traianos Dellas proved the difference between the teams.
Neither the Czech Republic or Denmark have progressed beyond the quarter-finals of a major tournament since their showdown 17 years ago.
But that unwelcome run will end for one of them when they go head-to-head in Baku on Saturday.