This feature is a part of RETEUROSPECTIVE
Both the Czech Republic and Denmark had fairly remarkable routes to their Euro 2004 quarter-final. The Czechs had shown their muscle during the group stages by getting a perfect nine points, defeating Latvia, the Netherlands and Germany. If there were any doubts that they should be taken seriously, results against this level of opposition surely put those to bed.
Alternatively, Denmark had got through their group by the finest of margins. Draws against Italy and Sweden, alongside a 2-0 victory over Bulgaria secured them five points, putting them level with the Italians and Swedes. The deciding factor in Morten Olsen’s side progressing is that Italy only won 2-1 against the Bulgarians, with Martin Petrov’s converted penalty being what got them through.
The Czechs were far more convincing in their progression and that turned out to be the case in the game. They had a plethora of attacking talent at their disposal, with Karel Poborský, Tomáš Rosický, Pavel Nedvěd, Jan Koller and Milan Baroš all adorning their team sheet. They teamed up to ensure that Thomas Sørensen was given various tests early on in the game, while Tomáš Galásek sent an effort from range wide.
Meanwhile, Denmark imposed themselves on the game by keeping possession, but were unable to cause much of a threat. It is this, and the crossbar denying Poborský a goal in the first period’s final seconds, that saw the sides go in with the score at 0-0.
That didn’t last long after the break, though. Poborský’s corner was too high for Martin Laursen to deal with, but six-foot-eight striker Koller met it firmly with his head, sending the ball into the top corner. With no man on the post and Sørensen rooted to the floor, there was no way the effort was being stopped.
Denmark could have easily found themselves back on level terms shortly after the opener, but Marek Jankulovski was able to dispossess Jon Dahl Tomasson. Karel Brückner’s side made the most of their left-back’s intervention, extending their lead to 2-0 in the 63rd minute.
The Czechs were passing the ball wonderfully and held onto possession well. This was all in front of the Danes, until Poborský played a beautifully weighted through ball for Baroš to run onto. The Liverpool striker provided an exquisite finishing touch, deftly dinking the ball over Sørensen.
Two minutes later, Baroš put the game to bed. This time it was Nedvěd who released him behind the Danish defence. Despite being put under pressure from Laursen, he burst forward and struck the ball into the roof of the net. This was his fifth goal of the tournament, enough to earn him the Golden Boot award.
There was little else in terms of notable action, as Baroš was replaced by Marek Heinz in the 70th minute, while the Danes looked understandably dejected. The final whistle eventually blew, confirming the Czech Republic’s 3-0 victory and their place in the semi-final against Greece.
This was one of the most entertaining sides to grace 2004’s edition of the Euros, due to their undoubted attacking nous. All of that was epitomised during the demolition of Denmark, with Poborksý providing two wonderful assists, Koller scoring a characteristic goal, Baroš bagging an eye-catching brace and Nedvěd getting an assist of his own. This was a match in which their individual talent and collective genius came together perfectly.
By Danny Lewis @DannyLewis_95