Vaclav Sverkos (Front) of Czech Republic celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the Euro 2008 Group A football match against Switzerland in Basel, Switzerland, June 7, 2008. Czech Republic won 1-0. (Xinhua Photo)
Czech Republic destroyed the party of co-hosts Switerland with a 1-0 win while Portugal crushed hard-core Turkey 2-0 in another Group A match on Saturday, the opening day of Euro 2008.
Thanks to a 71st minute goal from substitute striker Vaclav Sverkos, Czech nipped a 1-0 victorious start at Euro 2008.
Coach Karel Bruchner's decision of calling off the country's best-ever striker Jan Koller 10 minutes after the break and replacing him with Sverkos had surprised many and caused suspects about the tournament opener's process, but the 24-year-old proved himself soon after by sending a low drive into the corner of the rivals' net.
But the co-hosts' nightmare began as early as before the interval when their all-time leading scorer Alexander Frei was forced to hobble off the pitch with a strapped left knee.
Later exam proved that the injury is quite serious and Frei's playing time at Euro 2008 came to the end abruptly.
Portugal's Pepe (L) celebrates his goal with Cristiano Ronaldo during the Euro 2008 Group A football match with Turkey, in Geneva, Switzerland, June 7, 2008.
Switzerland also had the chance of scoring in the tight match. But Czech goalkeeper Peter Cech put up several brilliant saves to help his team keep a clean sheet.
In the other Group A match played in Geneva, Portugal, the losing finalists at Euro 2004, crushed their high-spirit Turkish opponents thanks to two second-half goals.
The Portuguese team hit the woodwork three times in the match -- one by Cristiano Ronaldo and two by Nuno Gomes. They also had a goal disallowed for off-side in the first half.
Pepe's 18th minute header was whistled off, but the defender didn't let the chance go for the second time as he opened the scoring at the 61st minute.
The tall defender charged forward and after a swift one-two with Gomes, he calmly swept the ball past Turkish goalkeeper Volkan Demirel.
Second-half substitute Raul Meireles added one in injury time to lock the victory for Luiz Felipe Scolari's team.
Despite not having a goal to his own, Ronaldo was obviously the greatest threat to the Turkish defence. His penetration, his dribbling and his free kick, quite often caused turmoils in the Turkish area.
An actress performs before the opening match between Switzerland and Czech Republic, of the Euro 2008 in Basel, Switzerland, June 7, 2008. Czech Republic won 1-0. (Xinhua/Guo Yong)
Gomes was another unlucky player in the Portuguese team. He played aggressively in the first half but was often caught off-side by the well-organised Turkish defence.
Gomes played smarter in the second half, but his efforts were twice denied by woodwork.
His first shot at the target was blocked by the post at the 50th minute while his second attempt was denied by the cross-bar 15 minutes later.
After Saturday's matches, Portugal led Group A with three points. Czech Republic also garnered three points but scored less goals to settle for the second place.
Co-hosts Switzerland were third and Turkey were at the bottom of the group.
(Xinhua News Agency June 8, 2008)