Manchester United were made to work hard to earn a point by a spirited Prague side in a disappointing draw.
The home side were inspired by former United winger Karel Poborsky who twice brought smart saves out of Roy Carroll.
Lukas Zelenka also shot just wide for Prague, who hit the angle of post and bar with Jiri Homola's header.
For United, Wayne Rooney twice saw efforts fly just wide - then turned provider by firing in a cross which John O'Shea flicked just over the bar.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson made seven changes from Saturday's Premiership draw with Birmingham, giving Liam Miller his first European start in place of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Miller formed part of a new-look midfield with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and O'Shea all returning.
Prague, who needed a win to have any realistic chance of qualifying from Group D, were boosted by the return to fitness of Poborsky, who passed a late fitness test.
He was full of running and his tricks and turns caused United's defence problems early on.
United had the first opening when Rooney burst clear down the right with van Nistelrooy free in the middle - but a poor cross allowed Radoslav Kovacs to clear.
And the home side responded well through Zelenka, who burst into the box and rounded Wes Brown, only to scuff his shot wide.
The game burst into life before half-time with a flurry of chances at either end.
First a long-range Rooney effort cannoned off defender Homola but skimmed just wide of the post with keeper Jaromir Blazek stranded.
Soon after, Gabriel Heinze intercepted a poor Jaromir clearance and fed Rooney again, and this time the England striker went even close, grazing the side netting.
But Prague were not lying down quietly and after a powerful Poborsky shot was clawed wide by Carroll, the resulting corner saw Homola's header hit the angle of post and bar.
And the home side started the second-half strongly, with Poborsky almost catching out Carroll with a looping shot after the keeper had punched a cross to his feet.
Vorisek's swinging shot also tested Carroll as Prague upped the tempo.
United did not manage another effort on goal until the 62nd minute when O'Shea met Rooney's cross but could only direct his volley on to the roof of the net.
And Prague again threatened when Tomas Jun shrugged off the attention of Mikael Silvestre and found himself clear in the box - only to see his shot blocked by the onrushing Carroll.
Ronaldo and Louis Saha were brought on for Rooney and Giggs in the closing minutes as United looked to take the game to their hosts.
The ploy worked as the visitors took control of the game - and Ronaldo should have done better at the far post when van Nistelrooy's cross found its way through to him.
Sparta Prague: Blazek, Pergl, Kovac, Homola, Petras (Cech 81), Poborsky, Sivok, Zelenka (Simak 81), Urbanek, Jun (Meduna 74),
Subs Not Used: Bicik, Michalik, Koubsky, Pacanda.
Man Utd: Carroll, Gary Neville, Brown, Silvestre, Heinze,
Miller, Scholes, O'Shea, Giggs (Ronaldo 78), Rooney (Saha 78), van Nistelrooy.
Subs Not Used: Ricardo, Phil Neville, Smith, Kleberson,
Booked: Miller, Scholes.
Referee: Massimo De Santis (Italy).