The Czech Republic are a point away from qualifying for the UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals after a victory against Italy that ends the hopes of the elite round Group 1 hosts.
Italy, held 0-0 by Scotland on Wednesday, led on four minutes through Valerio Verre. But Dominik Mašek levelled on the hour and soon after Michael Lüftner struck to ensure the Czech Republic followed up their dramatic Matchday 1 defeat of Slovakia. They only need draw with Scotland in the decider on Monday to earn a berth in Serbia in May.
It all looked better for Italy early on when Verre produced a great shot from Lorenzo Tassi's short free-kick. The pair were controlling the match but chances were being missed and Daniele Gragnoli was forced off with a 33rd-minute injury.
Emanuele Gatto came close at the start of the second half but on the hour a misunderstanding between him and Andrea Conti allowed in Mašek to equalise. The Czech Republic's physical presence was telling and Ondřej Karafiát's free-kick was headed in by Lüftner for what proved the winner after a thrilling finish at both ends.
Josef Csaplár, the Czech coach, said they key to the comeback was playing more expansive football in the second half and told UEFA.com: "The next match against Scotland will be decisive. Of course there are some dangers stuff, especially pyschologically. I'll try to ensure my team do not take excessive confidence from leading the group. We have to play the last match with the same intensity as the previous two."
Pasquale Salerno, who took Italy to the semi-finals two years ago, added: "I cannot criticise my players for how they performed, other than the mistakes made through lack of concenration. We did well to score immediately, after four minutes. The match was going in the right direction for us, but we were not able to double the advantage despite several chances. We prepared very well for this match, watching film of Csaplár's previous teams, we noticed his strong points. Unfortunately we conceded two goals in situations we should have be able to withstand."
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.