The Czech Republic twice came from behind to draw 2:2 away against Italy in a friendly on Wednesday night. After Jiri Stajner had equalised to make it 1:1 just before the break, the Czechs were put under pressure at the end of the game, when Italy got a goal four minutes from full-time. But man of the match Tomas Rosicky produced the goods two minutes later, scoring with a beautiful curling shot to secure a draw. That result increases the Czechs' unbeaten run to 20 games, two short of the national record. Karel Brueckner - whose tenure as manager coincides with that impressive 20-game run - said his team were unfortunate not to have beaten the Italians.
"We could have been more inventive when we got near their goal. We should have been sharper and we should have finished several movements off. I think towards the end of the game we had a few chances and should have won. At the same time, I'm satisfied because it was a useful friendly and the result was decent."
Wednesday's game saw Karel Poborsky enter the record books as the most capped Czech player of all time; the Sparta Prague midfielder has appeared for his country 91 times. The record had previously been held by Zdenek Nehoda.
Before the Czech team left for Italy, they gathered in Prague on Monday for the glitzy Footballer of the Year awards, and there will be no prizes for guessing the player or manager of the year award winners. European Player of the Year Pavel Nedved predictably took the former, while Karel Brueckner - ranked second in the world - was way ahead of the pack in the coaches' poll. The young player of the year was Banik Ostrava goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka, and that man Karel Poborsky was named "personality of the league".
There was good news for Czech ice hockey fans on Wednesday, when it was announced that Czech Television is after all going to broadcast games from the World Championships live; the tournament is being held in Prague and Ostrava in just over two months time, and there had been fears a dispute between the organisers and Czech TV would lead to viewers missing out.
Meanwhile, in the latest round of the Czech hockey Extraliga, Hame Zlin stole the headlines with four goals from Jaroslav Balastik in a 5:0 win over Kladno; the first, after only eight seconds, was the fastest goal of the season. Balastik is now the leading scorer in the Extraliga, with 29. Tuesday also saw a Prague derby between Slavia and Sparta; that game ended in a 1:1 draw.
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