Sports News

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Incredible drama as Liberec lose to Bohemians but win the football league anyway. We have comments from Liberec striker Baffour Gyan and Czech legend Antonin Panenka. Rosicky in then out of Under 21 squad for European Championships. And Tomas Enge wins his first Formula 3000 race of the season. Just a few of the stories you can hear and read in Sports News.

Slovan Liberec ecstatic as they win first title in club's history

Pavel Kulig from Bohemians Praha (left) and Jan Nezmar from Slovan Liberec, photo CTK
Today's main story - Slovan Liberec have won the Czech football league for the first time in the club's history. And what a dramatic last day of the season it was on Friday. Liberec visited Bohemians needing to get at least as good a result as Viktoria Zizkov, who were a point behind. Things started disastrously for the north Bohemian side, and after 35 minutes they were 2:0 down. The normally reliable Jiri Stajner fluffed a penalty, but Vaclav Kolousek gave Liberec some hope, scoring with a sweet free kick just before half time. And that's the way it stayed until full time, meaning everything hinged on the Zizkov result. Poor Zizkov - they were a mere five minutes away from being champions, before conceding the only goal of their game against Slavia in the 85th minute. So tears of sorrow for Zizkov, and joy for Liberec when the news came through from the other game. Liberec's Ghanian striker Baffour Gyan came on as a substitute with 20 minutes to go and was naturally ecstatic after the game.

"I don't know what to say. You know I give thanks to almighty God, for giving this opportunity. It's a great win for us. We didn't know what would happen between Slavia and Zizkov."

Were you nervous near the end?

"The way we were missing chances, we were missing chances upon chances. You know, to me, I had small time because the time I went to the game I knew I would get a goal."

Slovan Liberec have won the Czech football league, photo CTK
Do you think it's the beginning of a new era for Liberec?

"Yeah, it's a new era. I think it's going to continue."

One of the greatest Czech players of the last 30 years, Antonin Panenka, was watching the game. Did he feel Liberec were worthy champions?

"I think that Liberec deserve the title for their performance in the spring, because they really caught up on Sparta and other teams. And I think that on the pitch they played some of the best football in the Czech league, so I think they did deserve it."

By the way, Liberec's Jiri Stajner ended the season as the league's top scorer with 15, followed by his teammate Jan Nezmar on 14. Nezmar also got six in the UEFA Cup. And Vaclav Kolousek, the best playmaker and free-taker in the league, was named player of the year by the daily Sport.

Zizkov's loss allowed Sparta Prague to come second with a win over Synot, so they earned a Champions League play-off place. Zizkov manager Zdenek Scasny is reportedly leaving to take up a post at OFI Crete. Drnovice and Opava were relegated.

Rosicky in then out of Under 21 squad for European Championships

Borussia Dortmund's Tomas Rosicky was surprisingly named in the Czech Under 21 squad for the European Championships which get underway in Switzerland on Thursday. It's highly unusual for a player well-established in the national team to also play for the Under 21s. A day or two after the squad was announced Rosicky changed his mind and withdrew. Very strange. One player who'll be glad of some action in Switzerland however is Milan Baros, who has had a frustrating six months since joining Liverpool.

Enge leads Formula 3000 table after first Grand Prix win

Czech racing driver Tomas Enge notched up his best result of the season on Saturday, when he came first in the Formula 3000 Grand Prix in Spielberg, Austria. It was the fourth first place of Enge's career, and the 25-year-old Arden International driver now leads the Formula 3000 table.

Tennis round-up

The Czech doubles pair of Martin Damm and Cyril Suk won the ATP Masters in Rome on Sunday, defeating the Zimbabweans Ullyett and Black 7:5 7:5 in the final. Another Czech doubles pair - Jiri Novak and David Rikl - have evidently played together for the last time, though Novak said they might get back together if neither finds a suitable partner in the next year. Novak reached the semi-finals in Rome, where he was beaten by eventual winner Andre Agassi.

Hlinka receives fat cheque from Pittsburgh following legal dispute

The former Czech international ice hockey coach Ivan Hlinka has reportedly settled his legal dispute with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who sacked him at the end of last year. Hlinka is said to have received severance pay of over 800,000 US dollars.