Footballer Koller close to record after two goals in 3:0 win over Armenia

Jan Koller (uprostřed) přechází přes Karena Aleksaniana z Arménie (vpravo), foto: ČTK

On Wednesday evening the Czech football team won their second World Cup qualifying game in a row, beating Armenia 3:0 in the country's capital Yerevan. Two of the Czechs' goals came from man-of-the-match Jan Koller, with the third scored by his Borussia Dortmund team-mate Tomas Rosicky.

Tomas Rosicky and Armenian Rafael Nazarjan, photo: CTK
It was by no means a classic game but the Czech Republic - missing Poborsky, Smicer and the suspended Baros - did what they had to do in a professional manner. With many bigger countries failing to get expected wins against international "minnows", Karel Bruckner's men will be relieved to have taken all three points.

The Czechs' stated intention was to get an early goal, and it was mission accomplished after the gigantic Jan Koller headed into the net from a Marek Heinz free after less than three minutes.

Armenia fought back gamely for a while - and had one shot hit the crossbar and a goal ruled offside - before a brilliant 25-metre strike from Tomas Rosicky on the half hour took the wind out of their sails.

In the second half Koller and Libor Sionko both came close with solo efforts, before the former killed the game for certain fifteen minutes from time. Here's what the man-of-the-match striker had to say after the game.

"In a game like that it's definitely important to score a goal, which we succeeded in doing in the third minute. That meant they had no choice but to try to go forward, which left room for us to catch them on the break. Then we got a second and around five times we made solo runs at their goal - we weren't under any pressure at all in the second half."

Jan Koller passes two Armenian players, photo: CTK
By the way, those two goals take Jan Koller's international tally to 32, just two short of the national record set by Antonin Puc before World War II. Given the fact the striker is only 31 he has a very good chance of making history - something few could have predicted almost a decade ago, when he looked distinctly average as a Czech league player.

Getting back to the Czech Republic's World Cup qualifying campaign, after three games they are three points behind group leaders Romania, though they have a game in hand. Main rivals the Netherlands are two points behind Romania, also with a game in hand. The Czechs' last qualifier this year is away to Macedonia in the middle of next month.