A typically solid display from goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon helped Italy consolidate their status at the top of Group B despite being held to a goalless draw in the Czech Republic.
The home team had already lost at home to Bulgaria and Denmark in this FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign and came out determined to put on a better showing in Prague. They managed six shots on target to Italy's none, but were unable to beat Buffon, whose side survived Mario Balotelli's second-half dismissal and are now four points clear at the head of the section.
Libor Kozák, who plays his club football in Italy with S.S. Lazio, led the Czech attack while, behind him, Tomáš Rosický and Vladimír Darida combined to good effect on the counterattack. From one such move in the 12th minute Petr Jiráček was left one on one with Buffon; not for the last time, the Italian custodian was equal to the task.
Italy defender Ignazio Abate then turned a powerful cross centimetres wide of his own goal, though in the main it was Buffon who repelled the Czechs, twice denying Kozák in the second half when the striker was in a promising shooting position.
The pressure continued to mount on Italy after Balotelli collected his second booking of the evening with 18 minutes left. Jiráček nearly capitalised on the Czechs' numerical advantage, only the left-hand post keeping out his close-range attempt from Jaroslav Plašil's left-wing centre, but when Daniel Kolář dragged a shot wide in the final minute Italy had survived. They now have 14 points, four more than second-placed Bulgaria, with the Czechs a further point behind.