By Peter Smith
Sparta Prague are only one victory away from gaining their place in history as the first team to win the Czech League and Cup in the same season. The champions beat minnows Chmel Blsany on Wednesday evening in Prague, scoring first through Josef Obajdin on 39 minutes and grabbing a second from Radim Holub twenty minutes from time. Sparta will meet Prague's smallest top-flight club Viktoria Zizkov in the final on May 28th.
Zizkov achieved their place in the final courtesy of a surprise 3-1 win over Slavia Prague at the Strahov Stadium the previous night, overturning the league defeat that they suffered to Slavia at the weekend. Goals from Pikl and Chihuri gave Zizkov a commanding first half lead, although Zelenka's goal for Slavia in the 52nd minute briefly threatened a comeback. However, Pospisil made the tie safe for the underdogs in the dying seconds of the match.
Hockey now and the World Championships currently taking place in Germany. The Czech Republic booked their place in the second round thanks to a 3-1 win over Switzerland - this in spite of looking lethargic early on and falling behind to strike in the 16th minute from Martin Pluss. The reigning champions struck back, though, with strikes from captain Robert Reichel in the second period before Viktor Ujcik and Reichel again made the points safe in the final third. The Czechs now face Italy in their first second round match on Saturday.
Our North American listeners may find the rigours of the NHL Stanley Cup play-offs of more concern, but there's also a bit of interest there for the Czechs too. In the latest battle between Dominik Hasek's Buffalo Sabres and Jaromir Jagr's Pittsburgh Penguins, the Czech Republic goaltender came out on top, stopping 17 shots - one a penalty from Olympic teammate Martin Straka - as Buffalo triumphed 5-2. The result levels the Eastern Conference semi-final series level at two apiece.
Finally tennis and a great result for the Czech player Jiri Novak in the second round of the Munich Open on Wednesday. Novak triumphed 1-6 6-2 7-6 over the 1998 champion and number two seed from Sweden Tomas Enquist, setting up a third round tie with the Australian Werner Eschauer.