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

2-1.

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

the ball.

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

equalizer.

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

caps.

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

lowly Qatar.

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

Argentina.