Sep 10, 2013 at 7.45pm UK
Italy
2-1
Czech Republic
Chiellini (52'), Balotelli (56' pen.)
Balotelli (30')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Kozak (19')
Kolar (61'), Kozak (78')
Kolar (89')

Result: Italy qualify for World Cup

Mario Balotelli scores the winning goal as Italy beat the Czech Republic 2-1 to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals.

Italy have qualified for the 2014 World Cup finals with a narrow 2-1 victory over 10-man Czech Republic in Turin.

The victory at the Juventus Stadium means that the Azzurri have finished top of Group B with 20 points from eight games, with two more rounds of matches still to come.

The hosts had the first chance of the match when Mario Balotelli tested Petr Cech in the Italy goal, before Christian Maggio headed wide from the a corner.

The Italians continues to test the Czech defence but it was the visitors who surged ahead in the 19th minute through Libor Kozak, who volleyed home Petr Jiracek's pass at full stretch.

Czech Republic's Libor Kozak is congratulated by team mates after scoring the opening goal against Italy during their World Cup qualifying match on September 10, 2013© AFP

Balotelli was unlucky not to restore parity for the Azzurri five minutes later when his powerful shot from inside the area smashed against the crossbar.

Moments later the AC Milan striker was guilty of missing a sitter when he ballooned a loose ball over the bar from just yards out.

Cesare Prandelli's side pushed forward in search of an equaliser and could have got it six minutes from half time had Balotelli's header from point-blank range not been turned away by Cech.

Antonio Candreva tested Cech from 20 yards on the stroke of half time, before Kozak squandered a chance from a counter-attack for the Czechs.

Italy started the second half on a positive note and restored parity in the 52nd minute when Giorgio Chiellini nodded home at the far post after Cech had failed to keep out an Andrea Pirlo corner.

Four minutes later the home side were awarded a penalty when Theodor Gebre Selassie brought down Balotelli inside the Czech penalty area.

The former Manchester City forward picked himself up and made no mistake in making it 2-1 to Italy from the spot.

Italy's Mario Balotelli celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against Czech Republic during their World Cup qualifier on September 10, 2013© AFP

The Czechs ended with 10 men on the pitch as Daniel Kolar was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 89th minute.

Italy's coach Cesare Prandelli on the touchline during the Confederations Cup match against Uruguay on June 30, 2013
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Live Commentary: Italy 2-1 Czech Republic - as it happened
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