Tue, Jun 03, 2008 - Page 19 News List

EURO 2008: Sweden fall in Ukraine friendly

LARSSON RETURNS Veteran Sweden striker, the 36-year-old Henrik Larsson, came out of retirement to play against Ukraine and almost scored an equalizer with five minutes to go


Sweden were upset, the Netherlands cruised and Greece settled for a scoreless draw on Sunday in European Championship warm-up matches.

A virtually full-strength Sweden team lost to Ukraine 1-0 in Stockholm, while the Dutch team beat Wales 2-0 and defending champions Greece were held 0-0 against Armenia less than a week before the start of Euro 2008. Poland rallied for a 1-1 draw with Denmark.

Ukraine got their goal against Sweden in the 82nd minute when Serhiy Nazarenko, who was left unmarked, sent a 30m shot flying past substitute goalkeeper Rami Shaaban. Veteran striker Henrik Larsson, surprisingly recalled to the Sweden squad at 36 after being persuaded to come out of international retirement, almost equalized with a back heel five minutes from the end.

But the loss will not help Swedish morale ahead of their Euro 2008 group games against defending champions Greece, Spain and Russia. Sweden begin against Greece in Salzburg on June 10 in their first game.

The Netherlands are in the toughest group, facing World Cup champions Italy in Bern, Switzerland, on June 9. With games against France and Romania to follow, they will be boosted by a comfortable victory over Wales in Rotterdam.

Real Madrid teammates Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder put the Dutch in control, with goals in the 35th and 53rd minutes. The result and performance provided the buoyant Dutch fans with the chance to wave farewell to coach Marco van Basten, who will move to Ajax next season, and veteran goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who ends his international career after the tournament.

“At times, we played very good soccer,” said Van Basten, who made six changes in the second half.

Greece dominated for large spells of the game in Offenbach, Germany, but rarely posed a threat to Armenia goalkeeper Gevorg Kasparov. Angelos Charisteas had a good chance in the 37th minute when Kasparov dropped the ball, but the Nuremberg striker failed to get a shot off before the ball rolled out of play. Costas Katsouranis tried to break the deadlock with a long-range shot in the 88th, but it was well saved by Kasparov.

Poland, facing games against thee-time European champions Germany, co-hosts Austria and Croatia, fell behind in Chorzow when midfielder Martin Vingaard scored for Denmark in the 28th minute. Jacek Krzynowek equalized just before halftime.

Poland coach Leo Beenhakker was forced to rest defender Michal Zewlakow and midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski, who are recovering from injuries.

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