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By ESPN Staff

Baros: First goal was vital

PORTO, Portugal, June 27 (Reuters) - Czech striker Milan Baros became the leading goalscorer at Euro 2004 on Sunday with two superb second-half strikes in a 3-0 quarter-final victory over Denmark.

Baros, with five goals, moved ahead of England's Wayne Rooney and Dutch forward Ruud van Nistelrooy, who have claimed four goals in the tournament.

'For me to have five goals after the quarter-finals - well, if you had told me that before I came here I wouldn't have believed you,' he said.

'But the most important thing is that we are through to play Greece in four days' time and that is going to be a very big and very difficult game for us.'

Rooney has no chance to add to his tally since England were eliminated in the quarter-finals by the hosts but Van Nistelrooy has Wednesday's semi-final against Portugal to look forward to.

Baros's goals came inside two minutes midway through the second half against Denmark and he is the only player to have scored in each game his team have played at the tournament.

He is now one match away from equalling French playmaker Michel Platini's record of scoring in five consecutive European Championship matches set in 1984. Platini ended with nine goals.

Jan Koller put the Czechs ahead before Baros made it 2-0 in the 63rd minute, lifting the ball over the advancing Danish keeper Thomas Sorensen after Karel Poborsky had picked out his run with a perfectly delivered pass.

Another great through ball, this time from European Footballer of the Year Pavel Nedved, set up Baros's second goal which the striker blasted home with great confidence from inside the box.

'They were both beautiful goals but the first was more important because it made it 2-0 for us, and we knew that would probably do it,' Baros said.

With the game safe, coach Karel Brueckner, an eye already on Thursday's semi-final against Greece, opted to take Baros off just five minutes after his second goal.

The Liverpool forward managed just a single goal in 13 league appearances in England's premier league last season but it has been a different story with the national team with 21 goals in 29 matches, including 11 in his last 10 outings.

The 22-year-old scored on his international debut in a 1-1 draw with Belgium in April 2001.

The Czech coach said his decision to play a reserve side in their last group match against Germany had paid dividends in the quarter-final showdown.

Bruckner said: 'We had enough energy and power because of what we did against Germany and we also had the excellent quality of our players.'