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Poborský lob puts Czech Republic into EURO '96 semi-finals as Portugal head home

Czech Republic 1-0 Portugal
Karel Poborský's spectacular lob was enough to earn the Czechs a place in the last four.

Karel Poborský scores with a famous lob against Portugal
Karel Poborský scores with a famous lob against Portugal ©Getty Images

Karel Poborský's exquisite chip proved the difference as the Czech Republic overcame Portugal to reach the semi-finals.

Group winners Germany, England and France had already gone through by kick-off, leaving it up to Portugal to complete the full set with victory at Villa Park. Their midfield was once again in eye-catching form but for all their assuredness with the ball at their feet, found themselves up against a Czech defence which seldom looked troubled.

EURO '96: All you need to know

The game was ultimately decided by a moment of magic from Poborský, who showed incredible awareness to beat Vítor Baía on 53 minutes. The Czechs had to cling on when Radoslav Látal was dismissed late on but Poborský's was a goal worthy of winning any game.

EURO countdown: Watch Poborský's scoop at EURO '96

It was a triumph built on solid and unspectacular foundations, though, with goalkeeper Petr Kouba proving particularly key with early saves to deny Fernando Couto and Sá Pinto. It was a familiar story for the Portuguese, whose retention of possession remained impressive but, all too often, to no avail. Unable to unlock the Czech defence, they were made to pay soon after the interval, though there was little they could have done to stop Poborský.

The diminutive winger burst his way through thanks to a fortuitous bounce of the ball but was soon greeted by the advancing presence of goalkeeper Vítor Baía. In the blink of an eye he then concocted the most elaborate of finishes, scooping the ball almost vertically over the goalkeeper and into the net.

It was not until Látal was sent off with eight minutes left that the Czechs' lead appeared vulnerable. Sure enough, Portugal duly created their only really noteworthy chance of the half, Jorge Cadete heading wide. They would not have another chance to save themselves; the magnificently organised and disciplined Czechs had done enough to extend their unlikely campaign into the last four.

EURO '96: Team of the Tournament


Portugal's coaching staff sing the national anthem at Villa Park
Portugal's coaching staff sing the national anthem at Villa ParkIcon Sport via Getty Images

Portugal: Vítor Baía (c); Dimas, Hélder, Fernando Couto, Secretário; Luís Figo, Oceano, Rui Costa (Pedro Barbosa 61), Paulo Sousa (José Tavares 70); João Pinto, Sá Pinto (Domingos 46)
Substitutes: Vítor Paneira, Cadete, Alfredo, Porfírio, Folha, Paulo Madeira, Rui Correia
Coach: António Oliveira

Czech Republic: Kouba; Nĕmec, Horňák, Kadlec, Suchopárek, Látal; Šmicer (Kubík 85), Bejbl, Nĕmeček (c) (Berger 90), Poborský; Kúka
Substitutes: Drulák, Frýdek, Srníček, Kotůlek, Rada, Novotny, Kerbr, Maier
Coach: Dušan Uhrin

Referee: Hellmut Klug (Germany)

Man of the Match: Karel Poborský