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Czechs whip US but suffer Koller blow

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Last updated on: June 12, 2006 23:57 IST

Two goals for Tomas Rosicky and a Jan Koller header gave the Czech Republic a 3-0 victory over the United States on Monday, but Koller later suffered an injury that threatens to end his World Cup early.

Rosicky struck a superb 25 metre goal in the 36th minute and then capped the win with his second and the team's third in the 76th minute.

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However, the Czech Republic, already struggling to get Euro 2004 top scorer Milan Baros fit, could now be without Koller after the big front man, out for much of the season with a knee injury, appeared to tear a hamstring late in the first half and was carried off on a stretcher.

His country's all-time top-scorer had shown his importance as early as the fifth minute when he powered home an unstoppable header from a sweet cross by overlapping right back Zdenek Grygera

With Pavel Nedved pulling the strings in midfield the Czechs looked the better side in the first half hour but the U.S. did carve an opening in the 28th minute when captain Claudio Reyna struck the base of a post from outside the box.

However, that effort was eclipsed eight minutes later by Rosicky. Seizing on a poor clearance by Oguchi Onyewu, the midfielder let fly from more than 25 metres to leave Kasey Keller helpless as the ball swerved away from him into the top left corner.

The Czechs, ranked by FIFA as the world's second-best team behind Brazil - but only three places above the Americans - continued to look the more dangerous side after the break despite U.S. coach Bruce Arena changing to a more attacking formation.

Rosicky rattled the bar with another long-range strike in the 68th minute but was bang on target eight minutes later after running on to a Nedved pass and calmly steering past Keller.

Italy and Ghana meet in the other Group E game later on Monday with the battle for top place in the group all important as it will probably mean avoiding Brazil in the second round.

Mitch Philips
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