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France rally to win, unimpressive Germans held

HAMBURG, APRIL 27: Co-Euro 2000 hosts Belgium chalked up an impressive 2-0 win against Norway in Oslo on Wednesday on a night of friendly ...

April 28, 2000

HAMBURG, APRIL 27: Co-Euro 2000 hosts Belgium chalked up an impressive 2-0 win against Norway in Oslo on Wednesday on a night of friendly internationals seen as important tests for teams taking part in the championships starting in June.

Italy also beat a tournament rival with a 2-0 victory over Portugal, and in another game between two Euro 2000 teams, Sweden were 1-0 winners at Denmark.

Meanwhile world champions France came from two goals behind to beat Slovenia 3-2 in Paris, David Trezeguet scoring a last-minute winner. Trezeguet had put the French back in the game in the 63rd minute with Laurent Blanc equalizing in the 77th minute.

Gert Verheyen scored both for the Belgians, in the 55th and 90th minutes, against a Norwegian team seen as a good outside bet at the European championships in Belgium and Holland.

But the Dutch, regarded as one of the top favourites for the title, failed to overcome Scotland in a goalless draw in Arnhem.

Italy earned a badly needed morale boost in their penultimate test ahead of Euro 2000 thanks to a 2-0 win over Portugal, fancied to do well at Euro 2000.

With a series of lacklustre performances in their most recent outings, the Azzurris had so far mirrored Serie A clubs’ disappointing showings this season.

But second half goals from defender Mark Juliano and playmaker Francesco Totti were to provide coach Dino Zoff with some respite from a growing number of critics.

Italy took the lead in the 74th thanks to clever set play orchestrated by Gigi di Biagio, Gianluca Zambrotta, Filippo Inzaghi and Juliano.

The Inter Milan midfielder pretended to blast a free-kick towards goal but served Zambrotta wide instead. The Juventus winger fed the ball into the heart of the area, with Inzaghi tapping the goal in from short range and Juliano delivering the final touch into goal.

With the visitors intent on an all-out assault in the final minutes, Totti took full advantage by finishing off a sudden counter-attack with a delicate right-footer that beat goalie Espinha.

In another duel between two teams at the 16-nation Euro 2000 tournament, Sweden defeated Denmark in Copenhagen thanks to a 37th-minute goal by striker Joergen Pettersson.

European champions Germany were held to a 1-1 draw by Switzerland in Kaiserslautern, Ulf Kirsten scoring the equaliser for the Germans five minutes from time.

Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was at fault for the Swiss goal when he failed to hold a speculative 25-metre shot from Hakan Yakin in the 33rd minute and could only watch as the ball trickled over the line.

It was the latest in a series of poor performances by the Germans in what was their last match before coach Erich Ribbeck names his Euro 2000 squad.

“This was not the sort of performance I had been expecting,” Ribbeck said.

Romania, one of Germany’s opponents in Group A at Euro 2000, defeated Cyprus in Constanta thanks to second-half goals from Mutu in the 60th minute and Ioan Ganea from the penalty spot in the 80th minute.

The Czech Republic, who are in a group with Holland, France and Denmark at Euro 2000, breezed to a 4-1 win over Israel in Prague.

In other friendlies, Russia beat the United States 2-0 in Moscow, Ukraine were 1-0 winners over Bulgaria in Sofia, Armenia and Georgia were goalless in Yerevan, Liechtenstein went down 1-0 in Vaduz to the Faroe Isles, Greece beat Ireland 1-0 in Dublin, Poland drew 0-0 with Finland in Poznan, Croatia defeated Austria 2-1 in Klagenfurt, and Hungary enjoyed a 1-0 over Northern Ireland in Belfast.

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