Sports News

Turning to the sport now, and on Wednesday night Sparta Prague demonstrated just how far they have to go before they can be even remotely considered a force in European football.

The Czech champions again showed their capacity to attack like stars but defend like schoolboys as they crashed 4-2 in London to the English Premier League outfit, Arsenal. The home side took the lead after only five minutes with a wonderful 20-metre drive from the England international Ray Parlour. It all went completely pear-shaped for the Czechs only two minutes later when Lauren scored after a darting run by the Brazilian fullback Silvinho.

It was a shame that Sparta waited until they were two goals down before making a fight of the match. Labant almost pulled one back with a thunderous free-kick which Arsenal's keeper David Seaman touched onto the bar, and Jarosik and Rosicky also went close. It was all in vain, though, as on 34 minutes Postulka got down to palm away a Thierry Henry free-kick only to watch Dixon tap home the rebound.

Five minutes later, Kincl was felled in the box by Seaman, and Labant pulled a goal back for the Czechs from the penalty spot. The Nigerian international Kanu restored Arsenal's three-goal advantage shortly after the interval.

It may all have been over for Sparta but it certainly wasn't for Tomas Rosicky. In injury time, the skillful midfielder reaffirmed his ever-increasing international reputation by weaving his way through several Arsenal defenders and firing past Seaman from the edge of the area.

The goal proved academic, though. The result means that Arsenal go through to the next round and the Czechs are eliminated. In fact, Sparta will probably need a favourable result against Lazio next week in Prague to even claim the consolation of a UEFA Cup spot.

Turning to hockey, and Czech goaltender Dominik Hasek has stated that young European talent should stay in Europe longer before being hauled off to the North American NHL. Many young Czech hockey players desert their domestic league and head across the Atlantic to seek their fortunes. Hasek is worried about the detrimental effect that this will have on the future of the game in this country.

"They don't have to be in a hurry if a player is thinking of the NHL," said the 34-year-old Hasek. "It's best if he has won a bit at home, and crosses the ocean when he's a more complete player."