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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

Juventus Stadium (ATT 35,299) 10th September 2013 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: J Eriksson

Italy Italy vs Czech Republic Czech Rep

Italy 2

G Chiellini (52)
M Balotelli (pen 55)

ft

Czech Rep 1

L Kozak (19)
D Kolaf (S/O 89)

World Cup qualifier: Mario Balotelli helped Italy beat Czech Republic to reach Brazil

Last Updated: 10/09/13 10:25pm

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Mario Balotelli: Spot-on for Italy against Czech Republic

Mario Balotelli: Spot-on for Italy against Czech Republic

Italy came from behind to beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in Turin and qualify for the World Cup finals.

Aston Villa striker Libor Kozak put the visitors ahead in the 19th minute before Giorgio Chiellini equalised shortly after the re-start.

Mario Balotelli scored the winner from the penalty spot in the 54th minute after he was brought down by Gebre Selassie in the box.

The Czechs ended the game down to 10 men after substitute Daniel Kolaf was sent off with one minute remaining for a double booking.

The victory leaves Italy unbeaten in Group B and seven points clear of nearest rivals Bulgaria, who beat Malta 2-1 earlier today.

The Italians have now won six of their eight qualifying matches and clinched their place in next year's tournament in Brazil with two games to spare.

The victory at the Juventus stadium was doubly special for Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon as he equalled the record of 136 international appearances set by former Azzurri defender Fabio Cannavaro.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli started with Balotelli in attack, with the player having missed last week's qualifier against Bulgaria through suspension.

The home side had their first chance in the 12th minute when a poor clearance from Marek Suchy allowed Balotelli to surge into the area and struck the ball towards the far post but his effort was saved by Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Kozak then silenced the crowd when he got behind Petr Jiracez's cross and his acrobatic effort beat Buffon.

Balotelli should have equalised midway through the first half but his bullet strike from six yards hit the crossbar.

The former Manchester City striker then wasted another good chance in the 25th minute when he struck the ball over the bar from close range after Cech failed to hold onto Antonio Candreva's effort.

Italy continued to dominate possession but struggled to turn that into goals.

In the 36th minute, Balotelli got past his marker and put his head to Andrea Pirlo's cross.

The header was kept out by Cech to again leave the hosts frustrated.

The Chelsea goalkeeper was then forced into a full-length stretch to save Candreva's powerful strike from just outside the area.

In the 37th minute, Kolar replaced Tomas Rosicky after the Arsenal player sustained a thigh injury.

The Czechs could have gone into the break 2-0 up had Kozak's volley not gone just wide of the far post.

Italy pushed forward after the re-start and were rewarded in the 51st minute when Chiellini got past his marker and powerfully headed home from Pirlo's corner to beat Cech.

The hosts went in front three minutes later when the referee pointed to the spot after Selassie pulled down Balotelli.

Balotelli coolly struck the ball towards the left-hand corner of goal sending Cech the other way to put the Azzurri in front.

Stunned, the Czechs reacted and in the 67th minute Buffon was forced to fully stretch to clear Jiranek's left-footed strike from the edge of the area.

One minute from time, Cech cleared Balotelli's central effort as Italy held on for a crucial win.

With the setback, the Czechs fell to fourth place - four points adrift of second-place Bulgaria.

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Matches

  • FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

    Tue 10th Sep - Group F
    Tue 10th Sep - Group G
    Tue 10th Sep - Group B
    Tue 10th Sep - Group C
    • Kazakhstan
      0 - 1
      Sweden
      bet
      TV
    • Austria
      1 - 0
      Rep Ireland
      bet
      TV
    • Faroe Islands
      0 - 3
      Germany
      bet
      TV
    Tue 10th Sep - Group E
    Tue 10th Sep - Group I
    Tue 10th Sep - Group D
    Tue 10th Sep - Group A
    Tue 10th Sep - Group H

Tables

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Belgium 10 26
2 Croatia 10 17
3 Serbia 10 14
4 Scotland 10 11
5 Wales 10 10
6 Macedonia 10 7

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Italy 10 22
2 Denmark 10 16
3 Czech Republic 10 15
4 Bulgaria 10 13
5 Armenia 10 13
6 Malta 10 3

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Germany 10 28
2 Sweden 10 20
3 Austria 10 17
4 Republic of Ireland 10 14
5 Kazakhstan 10 5
6 Faroe Islands 10 1

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Netherlands 10 28
2 Romania 10 19
3 Hungary 10 17
4 Turkey 10 16
5 Estonia 10 7
6 Andorra 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Switzerland 10 24
2 Iceland 10 17
3 Slovenia 10 15
4 Norway 10 12
5 Albania 10 11
6 Cyprus 10 5

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Russia 10 22
2 Portugal 10 21
3 Israel 10 14
4 Azerbaijan 10 9
5 Northern Ireland 10 7
6 Luxembourg 10 6

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bosnia 10 25
2 Greece 10 25
3 Slovakia 10 13
4 Lithuania 10 11
5 Latvia 10 8
6 Liechtenstein 10 2

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 England 10 22
2 Ukraine 10 21
3 Montenegro 10 15
4 Poland 10 13
5 Moldova 10 11
6 San Marino 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Spain 8 20
2 France 8 17
3 Finland 8 9
4 Georgia 8 5
5 Belarus 8 4

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