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Italy Hold Czech Republic

Italy moved four points clear at the top of Group B in World Cup qualifying after playing out a dull 0-0 draw with Czech Republic on Friday night.

The Azzurri struggled to get things going on the night and had to survive the latter stages with 10 men after Mario Balotelli was sent off.

The Czechs, on the other hand, missed a number of glorious chances while Gianluigi Buffon was in top form and Petr Jiracek hit the woodwork late on.

Buffon's first test came just 12 minutes in when he had to be alert to keep out a shot from Jiracek with his feet.

There was not much else to shout about in the first period, though the hosts always looked more likely to find the back of the net.

Cesare Prandelli tried to change things tactically but his changes and game plan failed to bring the visitors to life.

Italy would have to thank Buffon again on the hour mark when his feet came to the rescue once more to keep out a shot from Kozak.

Five minutes later the player was denied again before Italy's woes continued with Mario Balotelli being sent off after two needless fouls.

The home side could have won it with just minutes to go but Jiracek saw his volley strike the outside of the post as Italy held on for a point.


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