Sports News

The footballers of the Czech Republic find themselves still topping their group after a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Denmark in Prague.

The visitors slightly shaded a match that had to a certain extent been overshadowed by coach Josef Chovanec's criticism of his players performance in the 1-0 victory in Northern Ireland at the weekend. If laying into stars such as Tomas Rosicky and Pavel Nedved had been intended to gee them up for the clash with the Danes then Chovanec's policy clearly backfired. The visitors took an early control of midfield with the busy Stig Tofting bossing the show and the creativity of Rommendahl, Gronkjaer and Tomassen providing a constant threat.

Vladimir Smicer was guilty of wasting a gilt-edged opportunity in the 25th minute and the giant Anderlecht striker Jan Koller almost got on the end of a Karel Poborsky corner in the last minute of the first half. The Czechs may feel aggrieved that English referee Graham Barber failed to award a penalty for a suspected handball by Tofting shortly after the break, but both teams could have taken the points in a frantic second half.

It was Poborsky, though, who'll be holding his head in shame the most. Koller bypassed Danish keeper Sorensen before laying the ball off to the Lazio winger - unbelievably, Poborsky contrived to miss the target from all of four yards out. Ebbe Sand headed in what appeared to be the winning goal for the Danes five minutes from time - luckily for, Chovanec, though, Tomassen was ruled offside.

Captain Pavel Nedved said after the game, "We played hard, but there were a couple of breaks that didn't go our way." So, 0-0 and the Czechs stay top of Group 3 although their lead has now been reduced to a single point ahead of second-placed Bulgaria.

Quickly onto NHL hockey and the Ottawa Senators player Radek Bonk will be out of action for four to six weeks. The Czech centre - who was included in the NHL all-star team for the second year running - has broken his left thumb.