Czech Republic VS Holland EURO 2004 🇨🇿🇳🇱 - 15th June, 2004.
Who remembers the last time these sides met at EURO 2004 which remains one of the tournaments best games?
After going 2-0 down to early goals from deadly Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Wilfred Bouma, the Czech Republic saw themselves with a mountain to climb. What happened next was to be one of the most memorable moments in Czech Republic international football and European Championship history.
As it was the second game of the group stage, tensions remained high with a lot of competition for places, especially with the presence of Die Mannschaft. Germany's promising and exciting style of play under Rudi Voller did not make them an easy target, particularly with up and coming stars in the ranks such as Ballack, Klose, Podolski, Lahm and Schweinsteiger. The blend of experience and talent also posed a threat with Dietmar Hamann still pulling strings inside the German midfield.
The Dutch felt confident leading 2-0 early on against The Locomotive (Czech Rep), with some of Europe's best players among the squad. Jaap Stam, treble winner at Man Utd, Phillip Cocu, La Liga winner with Barcelona, Clarence Seedorf, three time Champions League winner by this stage, along with winning domestic trophies in three different countries, they weren't lacking experience.
The Czechs had to combat skill and talent, with will and desire. The did so through the outlet of one man, Jan Koller. The 6ft 8 (2.02m) striker conducted the 'remontada' by throwing himself around making himself a nuisance, while upcoming Liverpool F.C star Milan Baroš provided a touch of finesse alongside him.
With just under 20 minutes left on the clock, both strikers had worked in perfect combination to create a recipe for disaster for the grounded Dutchmen, drawing it back to 2-2. Although they were many likely heroes capable of stepping up for both sides, Czech Republic's Vladimír Šmicer came in clutch for his nation. The attacking midfielder substituted on due to injury became a national hero securing a 3-2 victory over the Netherlands in the 88th minute, securing a place in the Quarter Finals.
This comeback set to carve a clean path to glory, only to be stopped in their tracks by a new rule introduced by FIFA, the 'Silver Goal'.
Rule: UEFA introduced a new rule, the silver goal, to decide a competitive match. In extra time the team leading after the first fifteen-minute half would win, but the game would no longer stop the instant a team scored. Competitions that operated extra time would be able to decide whether to use the golden goal, the silver goal, or neither procedure during extra time.
In the tournament semi-final against Greece, the game finished 0-0 and by virtue went to Extra-Time. The Greeks scored in the first half of the extra-time, and by rule of silver goal progressed to final. There they only went and caused a major upset beating tournament favourites and hosts Portugal.
Nevertheless, it was a journey to be remembered for the Czech Republic.