Netherlands, Spain win again in Euro qualifying
The Netherlands survived a scare Tuesday to beat Hungary 5-3 and
maintain its 100 percent record in European Championship
qualifying, while Spain stretched its perfect start to Group I with
a 3-1 win at Lithuania.
Hungary scored twice in five minutes at the start of the second
half to lead 2-1. Wesley Sniejder equalized and veteran striker
Ruud van Nistelrooy put the Dutch ahead, but Hungary playmaker
Zoltan Gera made it 3-3 with 15 minutes left to again threaten the
Group E leader.
Dirk Kuyt secured victory with two goals in the last 12 minutes
to take the Netherlands to 18 points from six matches, nine clear
of Hungary and on the verge of a place in next year’s tournament.
Sweden shares second place with Hungary after beating Moldova
World Cup holder and defending European champion Spain won its
fifth straight qualifier with another dominant midfield performance
by midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who scored the opening goal.
Lithuania surprisingly equalized in the 57th but Spain triumphed
with an own goal and an effort by Juanma Mata.
But with only 10 Euro 2012 qualifying matches, several other
teams were in friendly action.
Australia scored two goals in four second-half minutes to rally
and beat a much-changed Germany side 2-1, while a second-string
England side conceded an injury-time equalizer to draw 1-1 with
Ghana at Wembley in the teams’ first ever meeting.
World Cup semifinalist Uruguay scored three times in the first
half to win 3-1 at Ireland, Italy won 2-0 at European Championship
co-host Ukraine and France drew 0-0 with Croatia.
The Netherlands, which opened the scoring in the 13th through
Robin van Persie, is still on course to qualify but coach Bert van
Marwijk lamented the defensive frailties of a side that reached
last year’s World Cup final.
”You need to have discipline,” Netherlands coach Bert van
Marwijk said. ”We started well, scored a quick goal but then
things changed. We kept losing the ball unnecessarily.”
The Netherlands, which last week beat Hungary 4-0 with its crisp
passing game, produced a disjointed performance and struggled to
counter the a well-organized Hungarian attack.
Spain’s quick-passing game was slowed by a poor pitch in Kaunas,
but the favorite was always in control.
”It was an important result today, especially with the state of
the field, which was woeful,” Xavi said after helping Spain to its
11th straight competitive win. ”We reached our objective, so we
can go forward happy … the team played a complete game.”
Xavi’s shot hit Andrius Skerla and deflected into the net to put
Spain ahead in the 19th minute, and the World Cup holder created
several more chances through Fernando Llorente’s ability to hold up
Goalkeeper Zydrunas Karcemarskas again saved from Llorente at
the start of the second half before Marius Stankevicius fired
through a crowd of players from outside the area for a 57th-minute
But Spain quickly responded and Xavi set Mata free down the wing
before Lithuania defender Tomas Razanauskas guided the substitute’s
pass into his own goal in the 70th. Mata, who had replaced Cazorla,
then slipped a low shot from the left past Karcemarskas.
Defender Sergio Ramos came on in the 90th, the 24-year-old Real
Madrid fullback becoming the youngest Spain player to reach 75
Spain’s 15 points puts it six ahead of the Czech Republic, which
beat Liechtenstein 2-0.
Belgium beat Azerbaijan 4-1 to keep second place in Group A by a
point from Turkey, which beat Austria 2-0. In Group C, Serbia drew
1-1 at Estonia and shares second place with a Slovenia side that
drew 0-0 at Northern Ireland.
Adrian Mutu scored twice as Romania beat Luxembourg 3-1 for its
first Group D win, while Israel won 1-0 at Georgia in Group F.
Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez had given a reshuffled Germany
the lead in Moenchengladbach but David Carney leveled in the 61st
and David Wilkshire converted a penalty as the Socceroos beat
Germany for the first time in four matches.
Australia had lost the previous three, conceding at least three
goals in each match.
”We never expected such a result,” said Holger Osieck,
Australia’s German coach. ”I have great respect for Germany,
regardless who is on field, they are all excellent players. We
wanted to play well but we never though about such a result.”
France’s six-match winning streak came to an end as Karim
Benzema missed an easy chance and Adil Rami hit the post in against
Croatia at Stade de France, while Giuseppe Rossi and Alessandro
Matri scored in a 2-0 win for Italy – which played 16 minutes with
10 men after substitute Davide Astori was sent off.
FC Porto midfielder Ruben Micael scored twice on his first
international start to give Portugal a 2-0 victory over Finland in
Aveiro, but Russia’s dismal form continued with a 1-1 draw against
Denmark won 2-1 at Slovakia, Greece drew 0-0 at Poland
Matias Fernandez controlled midfield and scored a free kick to
help Chile beat Colombia 2-0 in a friendly held in The Hague, which
also hosted Peru-Ecuador.
Peru goalkeeper Salomon Libman saved a penalty as his 10-man
team easily held Ecuador to a 0-0 draw.
The South American sides’ matches were part of their
preparations for the Copa America, which starts July 1 in