Early goals put Czechs in Final
© Foto-net

Czech Republic booked the first ticket to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Final after a 2-0 semi-final victory over Austria in Edmonton on 18 July, 2007. Early strikes by Tomas Micola and Martin Fenin knocked the stuffing out of Austria and put the Czechs in a commanding position that they never looked like surrendering.

The Austrian coach Paul Gludovatz sprang a surprise by including star striker Erwin 'Jimmy' Hoffer from the start in place of Rubin Okotie, despite using the Rapid Vienna forward as a match-winning substitute in their previous two knockout round encounters, but this time he could not deliver. Defender Daniel Grammann came in for Thomas Panny, who broke his leg the day before the game, in a side featuring only five starters from their 2-1 extra-time defeat of USA in the quarter-finals. The Czechs, meanwhile, were unchanged from the team that kicked-off in their penalty shootout win over Spain in the last eight.

The match was only four minutes' old when the Czechs took the lead from a set-piece. Fenin weaved past right back Markus Suttner before being brought down on the edge of the box and when Austria goalkeeper Michael Zaglmair spilled Lubos Kalouda's low, curling free-kick, Micola was on hand to slot home the loose ball. Marek Suchy then fired narrowly wide as Miroslav Soukup's side made a bright, positive start and their lead was doubled in the 15th minute when Fenin turned in Ondrej Kudela's cross from the right flank at close range.

Austria, with Hoffer operating as a lone front man, struggled to get him any service in the first half and the scoreline could have been worse for them at the break had Zaglmair not saved well with his legs when Marek Strestik threatened to score a third. Austria's best opening came just before the interval when Suttner thundered in a left-foot drive which curled past Radek Petr's right-hand post. When the teams switched ends, the Czechs went close from roughly the same position and it was an ominous start to the second half for Austria.

Strike partners
Okotie joined Hoffer in attack as the hour-mark approached but the pair still could not make any inroads together as the Czech backline was efficiently organised and held up well, though Okotie was unlucky not to hit the target with a late header. The Czechs had done all the hard work early in the match in building their two-goal lead, although they did venture forward in search of more goals without success.

The skies darkened towards the end at the Commonwealth Stadium, where the customary flock of seagulls hovered, approximately 1,000 miles from the sea. Austria were similarly off course as they chased and harried to no avail looking for scraps but the Czechs offered nothing and stayed in full control until Austria midfielder Peter Hackmair brushed the top of the net with a drive from distance as the clock ran down. A crowd of 28,401 amused themselves with Mexican waves as the match petered out without further incident and the Czechs emerged victorious.

Chile or Argentina await Czech Republic in the Final in Toronto on 22 July, while earlier on the same day at the National Soccer Stadium, the Austrians take on the losers of tomorrow's second semi-final in the match for third place.