World Football - Tame Dutch held by Swiss

Fri, 11 Nov 21:47:00 2011

An uninspired Dutch team were held to a 0-0 draw by a rejuvenated Switzerland in an international friendly on Friday.

FOOTBALL The Netherlands' Robin van Persie fights for the ball with Gokhan Inler of Switzerland during their friendly match in Amsterdam - 0

The home side started with second choice holding midfielders Rafael van der Vaart and Nigel de Jong and it was the Swiss who had the best chance before the interval when unmarked Admir Mehmedi hit the side netting.

The Dutch improved after the break but had a Robin van Persie header denied by keeper Diego Benaglio. The striker also missed the target after a fine defence splitting-pass from Wesley Sneijder.

The Netherlands face arch-rivals Germany on Tuesday in Hamburg, though without Van Persie who is being rested.

Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine twice surrendered a two-goal lead against Germany as the first match in the newly-renovated Olimpiyskiy Stadium ended in a 3-3 draw.

A near-capacity crowd in the stadium that will host the final of Euro 2012 next year watched Ukraine lead 2-0 and 3-1 with goals by Andriy Yarmolenko, Yevhen Konoplianka and Serhiy Nazarenko but Germany refused to be beaten and earned a draw with a Thomas Mueller goal after 77 minutes.

Yarmolenko opened the scoring after 28 minutes, tapping in from close range, before Konoplianka doubled the lead eight minutes later.

Germany replied with a Toni Kroos thunderbolt from the edge of the area after 39 minutes but Ukraine went in at halftime with a two-goal cushion when substitute Nazarenko's long-range effort flew into the top corner of the net.

The hosts nearly went further in front shortly after the break when Andriy Shevchenko's curled effort was beaten away by Germany goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler.

Simon Rolfes got on the end of a corner at the far to bring Germany back into the game after 65 minutes and a rampant Germany side then took control.

The 2010 World Cup semi-finalists grabbed a deserved equaliser 13 minutes from time when Mueller poked the ball past a defender and fired a shot into the net.

It was an entertaining start for the 68,000-seater stadium which has undergone a drastic and problematic 410 million euros reconstruction since 2007 and was finally officially unveiled last month after major delays.

Ukraine are co-hosting next year's finals with Poland.

Mario Balotelli and Giampaolo Pazzini struck either side of the break to give Italy a 2-0 friendly win over Poland in the first game at the newly-built stadium in Wroclaw, which will host Euro 2012 matches.

Poland striker Jakub Blaszczykowski missed a penalty five minutes before the end.

Italy's new forward partnership of Balotelli and Pazzini replaced the pint-sized strike force of Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi, whose recent illness and injury setbacks respectively threaten their presence at the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine next June.

"This great game by Balotelli counts for a lot because other than the goal, he played an excellent match. Compliments to him and the team," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli told reporters of the sometimes immature forward.

"Again we haven't conceded and it is important to keep a certain balance. The lads managed the game well, Poland started strongly but we contained them."

Italy, humbled when they crashed out of last year's World Cup as holders in the group stage, easily qualified for Euro 2012.

Earlier on Friday, the Polish team in a statement sent to the state agency PAP asked their fans for strong support but to behave during the game.

Polish stadiums have been plagued by riots in the past months, tarnishing the name of the Euro 2012 co-hosts and leading to a tougher crackdown on hooligans by the government.

A second-half goal by substitute Loic Remy earned France a 1-0 home win against the United States but Les Bleus failed to impress in their first preparation game for the Euro 2012 finals.

France, who booked their place for the continental tournament in Poland and Ukraine by topping their qualifying group last month, lacked creativity but Remy's strike saved the day on a cold night at the Stade de France.

Remy collected a pass from fellow substitute Marvin Martin, muscled his way through the defence and clinically scored past Tim Howard in the 71st minute.

The U.S. could have won a penalty in the 20th minute when Laurent Koscielny brought down Jozy Altidore in the box but referee Michael Koukoulakis waved play on.

A headed goal from Kostas Katsouranis in the second half helped Greece fight back from a goal behind to earn a 1-1 friendly draw with Russia as both teams got their Euro 2012 preparations underway.

Dick Advocaat's team, who secured their automatic place in the finals to be held in Poland and Ukraine next year after finishing top of qualifying Group B last month, took a second minute lead through Roman Shirokov's deflected strike.

Greece, Group F winners ahead of Croatia, twice had goals ruled out in an entertaining first half before Katsouranis pounced to level on the hour mark to claim a deserved draw for Fernando Santos' team.

The midfielder planted a close-range header past substitute goalkeeper Anton Shunin from a Fanis Gekas cross after a sustained period of pressure from the hosts.

Greece, who face Romania in four days' time for another friendly encounter, were unlucky not to clinch a win when Gekas headed against the post late on.

The match also marked the debut of German-born defender Jose Holebas for Greece, the Olympiakos Pireaus left back making his first appearance after being granted Greek citizenship last week.

Denmark beat arch-rivals Sweden 2-0 with Sunderland striker Niklas Bendtner on target for the home side in a match billed as a duel between him and Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

A lobbed pass from Lars Jacobsen found Former Arsenal player Bendtner in space to put Denmark ahead in the 35th minute.

Michael Krohn-Dehli broke free to score Denmark's second goal after another assist from Jacobsen in the 80th minute.

Emir Bajrami had Sweden's best chance but drove his shot wide when well-placed.

Both sides have qualified for next year's European Championship.

Hungary recorded a 5-0 friendly win over Liechtenstein in a memorial game for Florian Albert, who passed away on October 31.

Hungary's only player to ever win the European Footballer of the Year award in 1967 died aged 70 following complications after heart surgery two weeks earlier.

The home team got off to a flying start as Balazs Dzsudzsak's perfect cross was headed in from close range by Tamas Priskin in the 10th minute.

The Ipswich Town striker grabbed his second 10 minutes later, banging in a loose ball from seven metres after Peter Jehle could only parry Daniel Tozser's long-range shot.

Dzsudzsak scored the third with a delightful lob in the 76th minute before midfielder Vladimir Koman added the fourth three minutes later and forward Robert Feczesin got the fifth one minute from time.

Reuters

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