France are sent home by Kadlec

France 0 Czech Republic 0 Czech Republic win 6-5 on penalties after extra time

Football's coming home, they say, and so are France. After a semi-final largely bereft of incident, let alone goals or guile, the Czech Republic advanced dramatically to Sunday's final at Wembley when their sweeper and captain, Miroslav Kadlec, dispatched the 12th kick of a penalty shoot- out beyond Bernard Lama.

Kadlec had emerged somewhat sheepishly from a huddle of red-shirted players after his goalkeeper, Petr Kouba, spoilt a sequence of 10 successful spot- kicks by keeping out Reynald Pedros' drive with his legs. His nerveless shot set off wild celebrations among the 500 Czech supporters and ensured a night of partying in Prague.

The standard of free-kicks at Euro 96 may have been dismal, but with the exception of Gary McAllister and Clarence Seedorf, the penalties have been sweetly struck and cunningly placed. Kadlec was not about to break ranks.

Yet the Czechs arrived in England as 66-1 outsiders, with only Scotland and Turkey below them in the betting. Now, having been Italy's assassins in the so-called group of death, and finished off Portugal and France, they are within one more giant-killing of emulating Denmark's unexpected triumph four years ago.

Amid all the talk of 1966 revisited, the fact that the Czechs have an anniversary of their own from which to draw inspiration was overlooked. In 1976, the former Czechoslovakia beat West Germany in the final, also on penalties. For the weary-looking French, who had harboured hopes of repeating their own success of 12 years ago, visiting Eric Cantona's theatre of dreams brought only a nightmare.

They could have few complaints. The match had brought two countries to a standstill, and all too often it seemed both teams were downing tools in solidarity. For whatever reason - tiredness, or tension, or perhaps a combination of the two - both sides appeared content with the soporific stalemate.

The Czechs had some excuse. Suspension deprived Dusan Uhrin of four first- choice players, who will all be available for the final, while a fifth, Patrik Berger, started on the bench after illness. France, who lost Didier Deschamps to a calf injury, switched Marcel Desailly out of defence to cover and initially used Youri Djorkaeff as an orthodox striker.

Although Aime Jacquet's men were more positive, and had more of the game territorially, that seldom equated with entertainment. Lama did not make a save until the 54th minute; Kouba was not properly tested until four minutes into extra time. Forty minutes had passed before a shot by Desailly stirred the crowd from their stupor. Only 20 seconds of the first half remained when France won the first corner. Indeed, for much of the opening period interest centred - by default - on the referee's performance.

Les Mottram was that rare species, a Scotsman involved in the later stages of a major tournament. Despite cautioning Lilian Thuram after what looked an accidental clash of heads with Vladimir Smicer, the Lanarkshire science teacher exuded a calm authority.

Smicer did not reappear after half time, which may have perturbed the lady he was due to marry in Prague tomorrow, but had the effect of bringing Berger into the fray. His first act was to ghost between Desailly and Thuram, a sign that at least one Czech was not playing for penalties. There followed a 10-minute spell of tit-for-tat efforts on target, out of keeping with what had gone before. No one came closer than Djorkaeff, whose drive smacked the crossbar in the 61st minute.

Following the departure of their lone striker, Radek Drulak, the Czechs massed behind the ball. Paradoxically, with Berger and Karel Poborsky running at France from deep positions, it hardly mattered, and they had the better of extra time until the final, tantalising moments.

With two minutes to play, Laurent Blanc poked wide from Djorkaeff's free- kick when unmarked five yards out. Almost immediately, Pedros fell under Martin Kotulek's challenge, but Mr Mottram was perfectly placed to make the correct decision. For poor Pedros, there was worse to come.

FRANCE (4-4-2): Lama (Paris St-Germain); Thuram (Monoco), Blanc (Barcelona), Roche (Paris St-Germain), Lizarazu (Bordeaux); Lamouchi (Auxerre), Zidane (Bordeaux), Desailly (Milan), Guerin (Paris St-Germain); Djorkaeff, Loko (both Paris St-Germain). Substitutes: Pedros (Nantes) for Lamouchi, 62; Angloma (Torino) for Thuram, 83.

CZECH REPUBLIC (1-2-4-2-1): Kouba (Sparta Prague); Kadlec (Kaiserslautern); Hornak (Sparta Prague), Rada (Sigma Olomouc); Nedved (Sparta Prague), Nemecek (Servette), Nemec (Schalke 04), Novotny (Slavia Prague); Poborsky, Smicer (both Slavia Prague); Drulak (Petra Drnovice). Substitutes: Berger (Borussia Dortmund) for Smicer, h-t; Kotulek (Sigma Olomouc) for Drulak, 70; Kubik (Petra Drnovice) for Nemec, 84.

Referee: L Mottram (Scotland).

Bookings: France: Thuram, Roche. Czech Republic: Nedved, Nemecek, Kubik.

Man of the match: Nedved. Attendance: 43,877.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee