Italy began their preparations for Euro 2004 with a 2-2 draw against a Czech Republic side who are now unbeaten in twenty.
The Italians looked to have won the friendly in Palermo after going ahead twice, but Tomas Rosicky levelled the score two minutes from the end. Midfielder Antonio Di Natale headed the Italians back in front after a goal a piece in the first half.
Both coaches, Giovanni Trappatoni and Karel Bruckner, made thirteen changes between them at half-time. There were efforts later at both ends but a draw seemed a good result on reflection.
The Czech Republic meet Latvia in their opening game in Euro 2004. The Latvians qualified via the play-offs. Opponents Kazakhstan last night took a shock lead against them on 24 minutes.
Southampton’s Pahars levelled the scoreline before the turnaround was complete by half-time. Jurijs Laizans then managed his second of the night direct from a set piece.
Despite Stephane Henchoz’s return to an otherwise unchanged Switzerland line-up – they could not recover from concededing two goals in the space of three second half minutes against Morocco.
The international friendly only went ahead at the last minute after the African Nations Cup runners-up had earlier threatened to not host Jakob Kuhn’s team.
Fans in Split were dismayed when a fine performance by German stopper Oliver Kahn and a stoppage time winner denied Croatia the spoils. Carsten Ramelow one of many substitutes on the night, struck the deflected winner.
England and France both managed good performances on their travels.
Louis Saha celebrated his first cap with a goal laid on for him by the impressive Zidane.
In the first half Chelsea’s Makalele was called upon to replace the injured Olivier Dacourt.
France went in at the interval one up via a penalty after Saha was tripped in the area. Their lead was doubled in the second half by the Manchester United forward’s first international goal.
Ledley King of Tottenham Hotspur was also busy staking a claim for a place in Portugal this summer. His goal from a Beckham cross put England in front at the new Algarve stadium. King has played the majority of his club games in midfield but Sven Goran Eriksson was happy with the 23-year-old’s versatility:
“He showed that he’s ready for big international games in a position that he hasn’t played in for some time,” the England coach said afterwards.
David James earlier saved well to deny Louis Figo.
The Manchester City keeper had a less comfortable second half and allowed Portugal to tie the match when he couldn’t reach a near post free kick lifted into the top corner by substitute Pedro Miguel Pauleta.
Spain and the Netherlands both scraped victories at home.
PSV striker Arjen Robben scored the decisive goal to beat the United States – Spain fell behind early on to a Nobby Solano effort before recovering to beat the Peruvians 2-1 in Barcleona.
Elsewhere, Denmark earned a deserved a 1-0 win in Turkey.
A volley from Martin Jorgensen after 32 minutes was enough to settle it.
In Athens both coaches were happy to shuffle their packs during a match which saw Greece and Bulgaria enjoy equal amounts of possession.
A goal in each half sealed the win for Greece.
It became three straight friendly defeats in a row for Sweden who went down 2-1 in Albania.