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Home > India > Sports > Football > Reuters > Report

Germany win, France held

June 01, 2008 15:52 IST

Captain Michael Ballack [Images] grabbed an 82nd minute winner for Germany [Images], who fought back from a goal down to beat Serbia 2-1 on Saturday in their last friendly before the Euro 2008 [Images] finals.

Substitute Oliver Neuville sidefooted home in the 74th minute to cancel out Bosko Jankovic's first-half opener before Ballack drove a free kick through the Serb wall and into the net with goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic rooted to the spot.

It was a less than convincing performance from the hosts, one of the favourites for the Euro 2008 tournament in Switzerland [Images] and Austria beginning on June 7.

"It wouldn't have been great if we had lost so everyone stepped on the gas," Ballack said in a television interview. "We are not yet at 100 percent but our form will improve."

Coach Joachim Loew had taken the precaution of resting striker Miroslav Klose, who has a minor ankle problem, and started with Mario Gomez and Kevin Kuranyi up front.

Gomez created an early chance for Ballack to put his side ahead but Manchester United [Images] defender Nemanja Vidic was on hand to hook the Chelsea midfielder's diving header off the line.

Serbia took the lead shortly after, Jankovic racing on to a defence-splitting pass and slotting past Jens Lehmann.

The Palermo midfielder almost had a second at the start of the second half when his close-range shot crashed off the bar but the introduction of Neuville with 20 minutes to go proved decisive when he turned in Jansen's inviting cross.

"In the first half we wasted our opportunities but thankfully it all came together at the right time," Loew said at a news conference.

"Michael Ballack carried the team forward today and was a strong presence on the pitch," he added. "The win is definitely important for the mood and confidence of the players."

Germany are in Group B at Euro 2008 with co-hosts Austria, Poland and Croatia.

France [Images] held by Paraguay

World Cup runners-up France were held to a 0-0 draw by Paraguay in their penultimate Euro 2008 warmup game on Saturday.

France, who had started their final preparations with a 2-0 win over Ecuador last Tuesday, failed to breach their visitors' tight defence and survived a few scares.

For their first outing since coach Raymond Domenech named his official 23-man list on Wednesday, France were missing midfielder and captain Patrick Vieira, who was nursing a sore left thigh.

While Domenech had rested several first-choice players against Ecuador, nearly all of them were on the Toulouse pitch, which they left to jeers from the crowd after a dull display.

France, meeting Paraguay for the first time since beating them in the first knockout round of their 1998 World Cup-winning campaign, needed a headed clearance by Lassana Diarra off the line from a corner on 72 minutes to escape defeat.

The best chance for the home side came six minutes from time when substitute forward Sidney Govou hit the post with and angled effort from inside the box.

France will play Colombia next Tuesday at the Stade de France in their final match before the June 7-29 tournament in Austria and Switzerland, where they will face Romania, the Netherlands and Italy [Images] in Group C.

Portugal best Georgia

Goals from midfielders Joao Moutinho and Simao Sabrosa earned Portugal a morale-boosting 2-0 win over Georgia on Saturday in their last warm-up match before next month's European Championship.

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari began the match with the players most likely to start their opening game against Turkey on June 7. They also face the Czech Republic and Switzerland in group A.

Portugal, runners up at Euro 2004 and World Cup semi-finalists two years ago, went ahead in the 19th minute when Moutinho scored his first goal for Portugal with a long-range shot.

On the stroke of the halftime Atletico Madrid winger Sabrosa was fouled by Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Loria and scored from the spot.

Croatia captain Kovac scores for both sides

Croatia captain Niko Kovac scored for both sides as his team scraped an unimpressive 1-1 draw with eastern European neighbours Hungary in their final Euro 2008 warmup match on Saturday.

Kovac headed Croatia into the lead midway through the first half and deflected the ball into his own net in the 45th minute after a Tamas Hajnal corner caused a goal-mouth scramble.

Czech Republic thrash Scotland

Two second half goals from Libor Sionko led the Czech Republic to a 3-1 victory over Scotland in their final friendly before Euro 2008 on Friday.

Sionko surged into the centre of the box and beat Craig Gordon on the right to open the scoring in the 61st minute.

Michal Kadlec made it 2-0 in the 84th, blasting a low shot towards the far post.

David Clarkson pulled one back a minute later, picking up a pass in the penalty area, shrugging off Tomas Sivok and beating Petr Cech from close range.

Sionko scored the home side's third two minutes from time.

The Czechs, who reached the semi-finals at Euro 2004 where they lost to eventual champions Greece, were in a mixed form in qualifying and have suffered a rash of injuries.

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