France 0-2 Czech Republic
The Czech Republic extended their unbeaten run to eleven matches with a stunning friendly victory against France in Paris.
Goals from Zdenek Grygera and Milan Baroš sealed the win against a lacklustre French side, who were uninspiring despite the return of Zinedine Zidane and Robert Pires to the squad.
Grygera gave the Czechs a seventh-minute lead when goalkeeper Ulrich Ramé spilled the defender's 25-metre effort and the visitors shut out a series of French attacks to maintain their lead. William Gallas had France's best chance but volleyed wide and Djibril Cissé tested Czech keeper Petr Cech near the end - but by that time Liverpool FC striker Baroš had doubled the scoreline and put the game out of the home side's reach.
World Cup reminder
The defeat, France's first at home since a 2-1 defeat by Belgium last May, was a reminder of their shock elimination in the first round of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. One encouraging sign was the second-half return of David Trezeguet to French colours after a succession of injury woes.
"The players produced a performance which did not match what I was expecting from them tonight," said France coach Jacques Santini. "We were too slow and too shy. The Czechs took this match like a qualifying game and gave everything. We were not able to face up to such a challenge."
The Czech Republic, who went through the whole of 2002 without losing a game but were not present at Korea/Japan, now look to their UEFA EURO 2004™ Group 3 match in the Netherlands on 29 March full of confidence but France, who top Group 1, will hope for a far more convincing performance when Malta visit on the same day.
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