(Adds details, quotes)
May 22 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic beat the United States 4-3 to reach the semi-finals of the world ice hockey championship on Thursday, as the Americans paid a heavy price for a lapse in discipline.
The Czechs will face either Canada or Finland for a place in the final, while Russia will meet Sweden or host nation Belarus after defeating France 3-0.
In the Chizhkovka Arena in Minsk, the Czechs avenged their defeat at the same stage of the 2012 Olympic Games, coming from behind to take full advantage of an extra man on a power play after U.S. captain Justin Abdelkader was ejected for charging.
“The turning point was obviouly when their captain took the penalty and we were able to score two goals,” said Czech head coach Vladimir Ruzicka. “After that we focused on our neutral zone trap and most of the time we did that OK.”
Brock Nelson had given the U.S. an early lead, but Tomas Rolinek equalised less than three minutes later.
Then Abdelkader was handed his penalty for charging Vladimir Sobotka after the Czech forward had unleashed a shot inside Tim Thomas’s near post.
The Czechs were ahead within 10 seconds as Tomas Hertl slotted the puck home after Jiri Novotny’s shot had been saved.
Roman Cervenka made it 3-1 eight minutes into the second period, with his second goal of the tournament, and Ondrej Nemec’s fierce shot from the blueline gave the Czech Republic a three-goal cushion.
The Czechs endured a nail-biting finish as the Americans hit back with two late goals from Tyler Johnson, but they held out for the final minute to reach the last four.
Johnson was proud of the late comeback but frustrated with its timing.
”I think we did as well as we could have done in the last minute there, getting those two goals,“ he said. ”We had some chances and we had to bury one. I think that shows a lot of character, but I wish it had come a little sooner.
“In the end, it was a good game,” he added on the official International Ice Hockey federation website (www.iihfworlds2014.com).
“Those five or seven minutes, whatever it was, when we were in penalty trouble and they got those quick goals, that’s what really killed us in the end.”
Russia beat France in the Minsk Arena, with goals from Artem Anisimov, Evgeny Malkin and Alexander Kutuzov, to avenge last year’s defeat at the worlds in Stockholm.
“It was a tough game, just like we expected,” said Russia’s head coach Oleg Znarok. “France has evolved a lot in the last couple of years.” (Editing by Neville Dalton)