Northern Ireland were left to rue a missed penalty just five minutes into the second-half as they began their UEFA Under-21 Championship campaign with defeat.
After holding the Czech Republic until half-time in Stadion Strelnice, Steve Beaglehole’s boys were handed the chance to take the lead when awarded a penalty in the 50th minute.
Everton centre-half Shane Duffy, who scored from the spot in last month’s friendly against Portugal, failed to find the net this time and the Czech made them pay.
The hosts took control in the closing stages, just as it looked like Northern Ireland might escape with a point to get them off and running in teh campaign.
They fell behind in the 72nd minute when Marcel Gecov finally broke the deadlock.
Seven minutes from time Borek Dockal doubled the lead to knock the stuffing out of Northern Irealnd, who now meet Iceland in Coleraine on Tuesday.
Czech Republic: Vaclik, Lecjaks, Mazuch, Celustka, Suchy, Valenta, Dockal, Hlousek, Vosahlik, Cerny, Gecov. Subs: Hanus, Dejmek, Vacha, Zeman, Marecek, Chramosta, Rabusic.
Northern Ireland: Carson, Hodson, Casement, Cathcart, Duffy, Weir, Bryan, Garrett, McQuoid, Kee, Magennis. Subs: O'Neill, Lafferty, Lowry, Shroot, McKay, Donnelly.
Referee: Thomas Vejlgaard (Denmark).