Wednesday, 26 March 2008

[Euro 2008] Rivals all warm-up with wins

All three of Italy’s Euro 2008 Group C rivals stepped up their preparations for the summer tournament with friendly internationals tonight.

With less than three months to go, all 16 contenders were in action including France, Netherlands and Romania.

The Dutch, who face Italy in the opening group game on June 9, issued a warning to their rivals after a late Klaas Jan Huntelaar goal completed a staggering comeback for Marco van Basten's side.

The Euro 2008 co-hosts were 3-0 up with ten minutes of the first half still to play, thanks to strikes from Andreas Ivanschitz and a brace from Sebastian Prodl.

However, Huntelaar's 37th-minute goal launched a revival which he himself rounded off after 86 minutes following second-half efforts from Johnny Heitinga and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Franck Ribery's penalty just past the half-hour mark proved enough to give France a well-earned friendly win against England in Paris.

The Bayern Munich winger proved the pick of the players at Stade de France and deserved to get his name on the scoresheet, albeit from the spot after England goalkeeper David James brought down the advancing Nicolas Anelka.

Anelka played alongside Juventus' David Trezeguet after injuries to Thierry Henry and Karim Benzema ruled them out.

England, meanwhile, continued their transitional phase in their second game under Italian coach Fabio Capello but, having failed to reach Euro 2008, have until FIFA World Cup qualifying in September to regroup.

Italy will play Raymond Domenech’s French side in the final group game in Austria and Switzerland on June 17.

Before that, the world champions will face Romania on June 13. Victor Piturca's side comfortably beat fellow Euro 2008 contenders Russia 3-0 in Bucharest with goals from strikers Ciprian Marica, Daniel Niculae and Marius Niculae.

The Romanians initially struggled against a team drawn entirely from the Russian League and it took the hosts until the stroke of half-time to break the deadlock through Stuttgart forward Marica.

Piturca took off Fiorentina's Adrian Mutu and Inter's Cristian Chivu at the break and substitute Daniel Niculae made it 2-0 after 61 minutes before Marius Niculae completed the scoring with a header late on.

Elsewhere today, Germany confirmed their status among the favourites as they beat co-hosts Switzerland 4-0 in Basel, European champions Greece secured another win against Portugal and a debut goal for AC Milan's Alexandre Pato against Sweden gave Brazil a win in a repeat of the 1958 World Cup final.

Today’s Results
Euro 2008 contenders are indicated in capitals.
Belarus 2-2 TURKEY
FRANCE 1-0 England
POLAND 0-3 United States
Scotland 1-1 CROATIA
SWEDEN 0-1 Brazil

[Match Report] - [Azzurri Reaction] - [Euro 2008 Rivals]

Source: UEFA

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