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Rediff.com  » Sports » Italy shine, France lose

Italy shine, France lose

February 07, 2008 13:26 IST

A stylish Italy beat Portugal 3-1 on a night of friendly matches between Euro 2008 rivals that left tournament co-hosts Switzerland and Austria among the losers on Wednesday.

While the world champions were thrilling the crowd in Zurich, Switzerland lost 2-1 to non-qualifiers England in a winning start for new Italian boss Fabio Capello at Wembley Stadium.

Austria had Germany on the ropes for the first 45 minutes at Vienna's Ernst Happel stadium before Thomas Hitzlsperger blasted the ball in from the edge of the box after 53 minutes to set Germany on their way to a 3-0 win.

The Netherlands beat Croatia, tipped by many as dark horses for the tournament after an impressive qualifying run, by the same scoreline in Split.

Spain beat 2006 World Cup finalists France 1-0 in Malaga thanks to a late goal from left back Joan Capdevila in another high profile dress rehearsal for the June tournament.

It was only the second time Spain have beaten France, who face Italy in Euro 2008 Group C along with the Netherlands and Romania, in their last 11 meetings.

The only disappointment for the home side came just before kickoff when Barcelona forward Bojan Krkic, 17, missed a chance to become Spain's youngest cap after he suffered a recurrence of stomach problems.

Italy shone with goals from Luca Toni, Fabio Cannavaro and Fabio Quagliarella while winger Ricardo Quaresma scored for Portugal.

"This national team has grown very much and we don't want to lose even these matches. That shows we are mature," said Cannavaro.

Midfielder Jermaine Jenas made another Italian happy when he scored the first goal of England's new era after 40 minutes, finding the net with a first-time left foot shot after superb work down the left from Joe Cole.

Switzerland equalised when debutant Eren Derdiyok, a halftime substitute, scored with a left-foot shot on the turn after 58 minutes but England substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips made it 2-1 four minutes later.

Austria did not even have the consolation of a goal despite a promising first half display.

Miroslav Klose made it 2-0 to Germany with his 37th international goal in the 63rd minute and substitute Mario Gomez headed home the third 10 minutes from time.

DUTCH DELIGHT

The Netherlands coasted to an impressive victory in Split with goals from John Heitinga, Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.

The match was Croatia's first since they beat England 3-2 at Wembley in November and continued the country's winless record in the Adriatic city since independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

"I can only congratulate the Dutch, they were the better team and deserved to win. We let in very soft goals and gave away possession far too easily," said Croatia coach Slaven Bilic.

In other matches between Euro 2008 finalists, Turkey and Sweden played out a goalless draw in front of 20,000 spectators in Istanbul while Poland beat the Czech Republic 2-0 in Cyprus.

Romania stumbled in their preparations when they lost 1-0 to Israel in Tel Aviv after midfielder Ovidiu Petre was sent off in the 22nd minute.

Omer Golan scored the only goal from a Moshe Ohayon corner three minutes later.

European champions Greece scored twice in the space of five minutes in the second half to beat non-qualifiers Finland 2-1 in Cyprus.

Source:
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