Sports News

By Ian Willoughby

Football first, and there was no change at the top of the Gambrinus League after this weekend's games - the last before the mid-season winter break. Sparta Prague stay at the top following a 4:0 victory over Blsany. Sparta have one more game before the New Year - Tuesday's Champions League tie against Porto, which takes place in Portugal. Liberec meanwhile take on Real Mallorca away on Thursday in the UEFA cup.

Viktoria Zizkov go into the mid-season break in second place, following a 1:0 victory over Ostrava. It was almost definitely Milan Baros's last game for Ostrava - the 19-year-old striker is due to leave for the bright lights of Liverpool once he gets a work permit. Baros will join fellow Czech internationals Patrik Berger and Vladimir Smicer at Liverpool.

The mid-season break is due to end on February 8, though that date was set before the Czechs failed to qualify for the World Cup. Now though there would be no benefit to having the season end earlier than usual and some clubs are calling for the restart date to be put back till March, when the weather won't be so cold.

And after over three months at Juventus Turin without a goal Czech international captain Pavel Nedved finally broke his duck at the weekend, - putting Juve 1:0 ahead after 52 minutes in a 2:0 victory over Perugia.

Moving on to ice hockey now and Sparta Prague have been knocked off the top of the Extraliga following a 5:3 defeat to Znojmo. Zlin went top with a 5:4 victory over Havirov. Third place Pardubice went down 5:0 to Trinec, who are in fourth.

The Czech Republic had been due to host the 2003 World Ice Hockey Championships, but had to swap with Finland and take the 2004 championships due to problems getting a new stadium built. Several venues in the city had been considered but work is now finally going ahead - the old CKD train factory in the Vysocany disctrict is being knocked down to make way for the stadium.

And finally, Czech coach Ivan Hlinka is planning to sue the NHL club Pittsburgh Penguins for some 800,000 dollars for breach of contract - the club sacked Hlinka after a run of bad results at the start of the season. Hlinka is said to have less than perfect English and to have had problems communicating with players. The coach led the Czech Republic to victory in the 1998 Winter Olympics .