Latvia came close to causing an upset against the run of play in their first ever match in a major tournament.
The Czech Republic started in a positive mood, and Nedveds cross seconds after kick-off was too close for comfort for the Latvian keeper. Within 10 minutes Nedved had had a shot blocked and Jankulovski shot just wide of the far post. Verpakovskis failed to connect with a header in the 14th minute in a rare Latvian attack.
In the remainder of the half Rosicky, Poborsky, Koller and Baros came close, but it was Latvia who took a shock lead with almost the last kick of the first half when Prohorenkovs crossed the ball from the left for Verpakovskis to score with an easy tap-in.
The Czech Republic dominated the second half, as expected. Poborsky struck the woodwork with a vicious shot in the 57th minute, while Koller's powerful shot 7 minutes later was straight at the goalkeeper. Nedved's volley from just outside the area was saved superbly by Kolinko in the 70th minute. Three minutes later a cross from Poborsky found Baros slotted home for the equalizer. The Czechs continued their assault on the Latvian goal and Heinz hit the crossbar in the 83rd minute.
With only 5 minutes left the Latvian defence failed to clear a ball, and Heinz picked his spot for the Czech winner.
Ruud Cancels Out Freak Goal
A late goal from Ruud van Nistelrooy saved the Netherlands from defeat against Germany. Despite the Dutch enjoying more possession in the first halt, it was the Germans who came closest to scoring when van der Sar had to tip over Baumann's shot in the 23rd minute. Germany scored on the half-hour mark when Frings swung in a free kick from the left, which beat everyone and crossed the line. With 4 minutes of the first half remaining van der Vaart's shot across the goal was just wide, and 8 minutes into the second half Ballack had a similar effort for Germany. Kahn did well to save a shot from Overmars in the 74th minute, but with 9 minutes to go van Nistelrooy volleyed-in van der Meyde's low cross from close range. The Dutch tried hard for a winner, but ran out of time and had to settle for a draw.