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Czechs grab fortunate win over Swiss

sports Updated: Jun 07, 2008 23:37 IST

Reuters
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Substitute Vaclav Sverkos volleyed home to give Czech Republic a 1-0 win over co-hosts Switzerland in the opening match of Euro 2008 at St Jakob Park on Saturday.

The 24-year-old striker, who only made his international debut last week, beat the Swiss offside trap in the 70th minute to score his first goal for his country and complete what turned out to be a miserable afternoon for the home side.

Though they largely dominated a lively Group A game, the Swiss not only lost but suffered a huge blow just before halftime when Alex Frei, who last week became their all-time top scorer with his 35th goal, limped off in tears with a knee injury.

He left the field with his left knee heavily bandaged and did not return for the second half, but went to the dugout on crutches 25 minutes before the end of the game.

The Swiss felt his absence too, because none of their enterprising approach work paid dividends and the nearest they came to scoring was when substitute Johan Vonlanthen hit the bar 10 minutes from time.

After a short quirky, opening ceremony featuring a snow queen, cows and skiers in an Alpine-themed show, Switzerland's footballers were quick to rise to the occasion when the match began.

They made the brighter start with Frei shooting wide and Valon Behrami firing straight at Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech in the opening 16 minutes.

Frei was on target in the 36th minute when Cech could only parry a powerful 30-metre drive and he was lucky to see Marco Streller flagged for offside just as he was about to unleash a shot.

Swiss keeper Diego Benaglio was rarely tested throughout the match, but they now have a mountain to climb if they are to qualify from a group which also includes Portugal and Turkey, who were meeting in Geneva later on Saturday.

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