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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

Sparta Stadium (ATT 18,235) 7th June 2013 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: S Oddvar Moen

Czech Rep Czech Republic vs Italy Italy

Czech Rep 0

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Italy 0

M Balotelli (S/O 72)

Balotelli off in Prague draw

Last Updated: 07/06/13 10:39pm

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Michal Kadlec (R) vies for the ball with Mario Balotteli

Michal Kadlec (R) vies for the ball with Mario Balotteli

Mario Balotelli's dismissal was the talking point as Italy ground out a goalless draw with the Czech Republic in Friday night's World Cup qualifying match in Prague.

Three points would have seen Cesare Prandelli's men open a six-point lead over Bulgaria at the top of Group B but, if not for Gianluigi Buffon's heroics in the Italy goal, the Czechs might well have taken second spot and firmly stated their case for automatic qualification.

The Azzurri successfully weathered heavy pressure from a particularly keen Libor Kozak but Balotelli's impetuous dismissal for two quickfire yellow cards threatened to hand their hosts the initiative in the final exchanges.

The first 45 minutes in Prague proved to be a stern examination of the veteran Buffon's talents.

Within minutes the Juventus keeper had swept up Tomas Sivok's header and diffused a powerful drive from Vladimir Darida, each time yelling at his defence to pay better attention.

One of that backline threatened to betray him in the 10th minute as Ignazio Abate leapt onto a Kozak strike only to divert it just wide of his own goal.

The pressure on Italy's goal continued as Tomas Rosicky blasted wide having been unmarked at a corner.

Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy failed to combine in the Azzurri attack with the latter's slide-ruled pass bobbling behind his team-mate in the box, and Riccardo Montolivo's control left much to be desired when he found himself in front of Petr Cech.

Buffon had enjoyed a few minutes' respite but he was soon diving to repel a long-range drive from Kozak.

It might have been unfair on the Czechs had Italy taken the lead just before the break but it was not to be as Balotelli decided against passing to an unmarked Montolivo.

Buffon was under siege once more when play resumed as a fumbled clearance on Darida's corner allowed Petr Jiracek a free header, which missed the mark.

Lazio striker Kozak continued his torment of the Juve stopper with two solid efforts around the hour mark.

The Czech first sprang the offside trap to earn a one-on-one with Buffon, who spread himself to save with an outstretched toe, before trying his luck with an angular drive after Abate had failed to intercept his run.

An alert Buffon survived with stung palms and the worst part of his evening was over.

For Balotelli, however, a disappointing night in front of goal boiled over into three minutes of frustration that saw the AC Milan man receive his marching orders.

Moments after lunging in late on Michal Kadlec, the irate striker was shown a second yellow card for using his hands in a tussle with Theodor Gebre Selassie, prompting a flurry of kicks and punches against the walls of the Generali Arena tunnel.

The game continued but offered little more as both sides struggled for incision.

Jiracek turned a Jaroslav Plasil free-kick against a post from six yards and Gebre Selassie appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty on the stroke of full-time, and the points were shared.

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Matches

  • FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

    Fri 7th Jun - Group B
    Fri 7th Jun - Group F
    • Azerbaijan
      1 - 1
      Luxembourg
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    • Portugal
      1 - 0
      Russia
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    Fri 7th Jun - Group I
    Fri 7th Jun - Group G
    • Latvia
      0 - 5
      Bos & Herz
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    • Liechtenstein
      1 - 1
      Slovakia
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    • Lithuania
      0 - 1
      Greece
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    Fri 7th Jun - Group A
    Fri 7th Jun - Group H
    Fri 7th Jun - Group E
    Fri 7th Jun - Group C
    • Rep Ireland
      3 - 0
      Faroe Islands
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    • Austria
      2 - 1
      Sweden
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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 and Herzegovina 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