Lisbon:Three-time European champions Germany became the latest big names to exit the Euro 2004 finals after going down to a 2-1 defeat against a second-string Czech Republic side. The 2002 World Cup finalists followed Italy and Spain out of the tournament in a recurrence of their Euro 2000 nightmare when they exited at the group stage without winning a match. Two draws and this defeat here means Germany have not won in the European championships for eight years with their last triumph coming against the Czechs in the Euro '96 final at Wembley. The luxury of having qualified for the quarterfinals allowed the Czechs to make nine changes and rest key men such as Pavel Nedved, Jan Koller and Tomas Rosicky and a very much second string Czech side should have taken in the third minute. Germany knew nothing less than a win would do and Michael Ballack duly obliged as they took the lead on 21 minutes. Germany still had little margin for error and were rocked back when the Czechs drew level in spectacular fashion on 29 minutes through Marek Heinze. The Germans then laid a virtual wall around the Czechs in the second half, but luck just did not seem on their side. But the Germans were also guilty of wasting chances that came their way. Germany's failure to take their chances returned to haunt them as they fell behind on 75 minutes. Milan Baros held off two men for his third goal of the tournament. As the final whistle went, Germany three times World Champions and three times European Champions were out, while the Czech Republic, the only team with a 100 per cent record after the group stage will play Denmark in the quarter-finals on June 27.
Topics : Football