On an action-packed night of international friendlies last night, two of England
On an action-packed night of international friendlies last night, two of England's Euro 2004 Group 7 opponents were in action. Here TheFA.com looks at how they got on in round-up of the results...
Sven-Göran Eriksson will have been interested to note that the team standing between England and a place at next year's European Championships in Portugal, Turkey, could only manage a disappointing and at times lacklustre draw at home against Ukraine. Turkey coach Senol Günes, who guided his side to third place at last summer's World Cup finals, was grateful to Fenerbahçe goalkeeper Rüstu Reçber, who produced a string of world-class saves to deny the visitors in a game that will have provided the Swede and his watching scouts with few clues as to his intended starting line-up come 2 April, when the two teams go head-to-head at Sunderland's Stadium of Light.
For a start, the coach handed debuts to both Ibrahim Uzulmez and Tumer Metin in central midfield, neither is expected to start against England next month.
Meanwhile other Group 7 contenders, Slovakia, who England overcame 2-1 last October in Bratislava, travelled to Bucharest to take on Romania and despite coach Anghel Iordanescu selecting an under-strength home team, they still came from behind to secure a 2-1 win over a side that England will play against at home on 11 June.
The fortunes of the home nations varied differently. Wales set a new national record of nine games unbeaten when they drew 2-2 at the Millennium stadium with Bosnia-Herzegovina thanks to strikes from Robert Earnshaw and John Hartson on a day when their Euro 2004 group rivals, Serbia and Montenegro, threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home with Azerbaijan, leaving Mark Hughes' team four points clear at the top of Group Nine and a massive five points ahead of third-placed Italy.
Scotland helped the new Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr get off to the best possible start by giving away a two-goal lead inside the opening 15 minutes of his first game in charge of the national side, Kevin Kilbane and Clinton Morrison with the strikes, while Northern Ireland's famine in front of goal continued at a foggy Windsor Park as Sammy McIlroy's side lost to a goal from Liverpool captain Sami Hyypia on his 50th appearance for Finland.
Elsewhere across the continent last night, Holland needed an 87th-minute goal from substitute Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who could play for Arsenal against Manchester United in this Saturday's FA Cup fifth round tie at Old Trafford, to see off rivals Argentina at the Amsterdam ArenA in what was a repeat of the 1998 World Cup quarter-final that the Dutch also won late on.
And in Spain it was a record-breaking evening for Real Madrid striker Raúl González, who scored twice in his countries 3-1 win over World Cup finalists Germany, his opener taking is overall tally for Spain to 30, past that of his captain at Madrid Fernando Hierro, before a second-half penalty made it 31 and 2-1 on the night after Fredi Bobic had pulled the visitors level. And his club-mate at the Santiago Bernabéu, Guti, added a third just before the final whistle.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening came in Paris where the Czech Republic, who failed to qualify for last year's World Cup, went an eleventh match unbeaten by stunning the European champions France 2-0, inflicting on new coach Jacques Santini his first defeat since he took over the reigns from Roger Lemerre following Les Bleus' disastrous performance in Korea and Japan. A terrible mistake from Bordeaux captain Ulrich Rame, deputising for both the injured Fabien Barthez and Lyon's Grégory Coupet, allowed the visitors to take an early lead that was doubled after half-time thanks to Liverpool striker Milan Baros.
The man who guided Brazil to their fifth world title last July, Luiz Felipe Scolari, and then decided to pack it all in to take over the coaching reigns of the Euro 2004 hosts, was in charge for his first match last night, but 'Big Phil' experienced something that he never felt while in the Far East - defeat - at the hands of Italy, Lazio's summer signing from Chievo, forward Bernardo Corradi, netting the winner on his debut for the Azzurri.
And speaking of the world champions, the team with the three R's journeyed halfway across the globe to take on China and despite including all three of their explosive forward line, plus Arsenal's Gilberto Silva, played out an uneventful goalless draw in what was new China coach, Dutchman Arie Haan's, first match in charge of the Asians.
Finally, for all those Charlton fans who were waiting to see Scott Parker come off the bench and score for England last night they can take consolation from Claus Jensen who was on hand to score a hat-trick as Denmark won 4-1 in Egypt.