SPORT

Sverkos fires Czechs to victory

Switzerland has a forgettable opening day

BASEL: Substitute Vaclav Sverkos volleyed home to give Czech Republic a 1-0 win over co-host Switzerland in the opening match of Euro 2008 at St. Jakob Park on Saturday.

The 24-year-old striker, who only made his international debut last week, beat the Swiss off-side trap in the 70th minute to score his first goal for his country and complete what turned out to be a miserable afternoon for the home side.

Sverkos ran on to Tomas Galasek’s header after beating the off-side trap and made no mistake with a cool finish to the left of Switzerland goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.

His goal saved the Czech Republic from an otherwise poor performance that included long stretches of Swiss control.

Though it largely dominated a lively Group ‘A’ game, Switzerland not only lost but suffered a huge blow just before half-time when Alex Frei, who last week became its all-time top scorer with his 35th goal, limped off in tears with a knee injury.

He left the field with his left knee heavily bandaged and did not return for the second half.

Switzerland felt his absence too, because none of its enterprising approach work paid dividends and the nearest it came to scoring was when substitute Johan Vonlanthen hit the bar 10 minutes from time.

After a short quirky, opening ceremony featuring a snow queen, cows and skiers in an Alpine-themed show, Switzerland’s footballers were quick to rise to the occasion when the match began.

The host made a brighter start with Frei shooting wide and Valon Behrami firing straight at Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech in the opening 16 minutes.

The result:

Group A: Czech Republic 1 (Vaclav Sverkos 70) bt Switzerland 0. — Agencies

THE SCHEDULE

Austria vs. Croatia, 9.20 p.m.

Germany vs. Poland, 12.05 a.m. (Monday)

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