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Saturday, 18 May, 2002, 21:38 GMT 22:38 UK
Smicer strike sinks Italy
Italy's Damiano Tommasi
Italy were more intent on avoiding injuries
Czech Republic 1-0 Italy

Vladimir Smicer's solitary goal for the Czech Republic ensured Italy head off to the World Cup next week on a losing note.

The Czechs did not qualify for this summer's finals and they were able to play wholehearted football as the Italians appeared more concerned with staying healthy.

Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni will have been relieved that his side did not pick up any injuries but less than impressed with a loss ahead of the World Cup.

It was only Trapattoni's second defeat in charge of Italy after last year's 2-1 defeat in a friendly against Argentina in Rome.

In Prague, Liverpool star Smicer headed home the winner from a Marek Jankulowski corner on 26 minutes.

Nine substitutes

The Italians were avoiding any risks but came close before the break when Gianluca Zambrotta cut inside and fired inches wide.

In the second half, Italy defender Alessandro Nesta needed treatment on an injured ankle but Trapattoni breathed a sigh of relief when he returned to the fray within a minute.

The Czechs were soon on the offensive and Karel Poborsky played a brilliant one-two with Jan Koller, only to see his shot saved by substitute goalkeeper Francesco Toldo.

Libor Sionko was also proving a threat for the Czechs as he first forced another fine save from Toldo minutes later.

Italy were close to snatching an undeserved equaliser at the end when Vincenzo Montella found himself in space in front of goal, only for his control to let him down.

But Trapattoni will have learned little in a game where he used nine substitutes.


Teams:

Czech Republic: Antonin Kinsky (Martin Vaniak 46), Milan Fukal (Lukas Dosek 46, Jiri Stajner 89), Rene Bolf, Petr Johana, Marek Jankulovski, Karel Poborsky (Adam Petrous 88), Tomas Galasek, Jiri Jarosik, Tomas Rosicky (Vaclav Kolousek 81), Vladimir Smicer (Libor Sionko 46), Jan Koller (Tomas Dosek 75).

Italy: Gianluigi Buffon (Francesco Toldo 46), Fabio Cannavaro (Mark Iuliano 46), Alessandro Nesta, Paolo Maldini (Marco Materazzi 46), Gianluca Zambrotta (Angelo Di Livio 71), Ivan Gattuso, Luigi Di Biagio (Marco Delvecchio 71), Cristiano Zanetti (Damiano Tommasi 46), Francesco Coco (Christian Panucci 46), Christian Vieri (Montela 46), Filippo Inzaghi (Alessandro Del Piero 46).


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