Sun, Jun 15, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Bruckner aiming to avoid penalties

AFP , GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

Tomas Ujfalusi, rear, looks on as Rudolf Skacel controls the ball during a training session of the Czech Republic national soccer team in Seefeld, Austria, on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

Czech Republic coach Karel Bruckner is desperate to avoid an historic penalty shoot-out against Turkey in today’s winner-takes-all showdown with a Euro 2008 quarter-final berth at stake.

With both sides dead level in the Group A table by virtue of a victory and defeat each, two goals scored, three conceded and level on three points, tonight’s Stade de Geneve clash will be decided by a penalty shoot-out if the scores are level after 90 minutes.

It would be the first time in European Championship history a group stage game is decided by a penalty shoot-out, but Bruckner is keen to settle the matter over 90 minutes.

“We know there is an alternative to going to penalties, even though we are going to practice them,” said Bruckner, who saw his side become the first to lose to a silver goal against Greece in the Euro 2004 semi-finals.

The Czechs were also the victim of the competition’s first golden goal when Germany’s Oliver Bierhoff decided the Euro 1996 final at Wembley Stadium at their expense.

“We have to focus on the game, give a quality display like we did in the first half against Portugal and try to decide the issue in the first 90 minutes,” Bruckner said.

The Czechs were well beaten by Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal on Wednesday as the Manchester United star created two goals and scored his own in a 3-1 win as Portugal became the first side to qualify for the last eight.

On the same night, Turkey kept their Euro 2008 aspirations alive by coming from behind to secure a 2-1 win over co-hosts Switzerland in a game dogged by rain in Basel.

Having lost 2-0 to tournament pace-setters Portugal in their opening game, Turkey produced a superb second-half display against the Swiss, with striker Hamit Altintop saying on that basis they have nothing to fear from the Czechs.

“If we play like we did in the second half, there is nothing to fear,” the Schalke 04 striker said.

Turkey were a goal down after Hakan Yakin scored for Switzerland on the water-logged pitch, but Semih Sentuerk put the Turks level on 57 minutes before midfielder Adra Turan scored the winner in extra time to break Swiss hearts.

“Before the match, [Turkey coach] Fatih Terim told us to play short passes, but that is very hard in those conditions,” Altintop said. “We responded well, especially in the second half, so I think we are on the right track. With this morale boost, I hope we can show our best football and get the result from the third game against the Czech Republic.”

The Group A meeting in Geneva is crucial — the winners progress to the quarter-finals and the losers go home.

“Now everything is in our hands. If we win, we go through — if the Czechs win, they go through. We will see,” Kazim Kazim said.

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