Mon, Jun 04, 2012 - Page 18 News List

England sign off with win as the Netherlands cruise

PRESSURE BUILDS:Portugal lost their friendly match to Turkey 3-1, leaving the squad winless in three heading into Euro 2012, while the Netherlands pummeled N Ireland 6-0


England striker Danny Welbeck, center, scores a goal during an international friendly soccer match against Belgium at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

England completed their preparations for Euro 2012 with a 1-0 friendly win over Belgium at Wembley on Saturday, while the Netherlands romped to a 6-0 success over Northern Ireland in Amsterdam.

Portugal, however, saw Cristiano Ronaldo fail to convert a penalty in a 3-1 loss at home to Turkey that left them without a win in three matches.

England secured victory through a 36th-minute goal by Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck, his first for his country, to register a second consecutive 1-0 success following an earlier win over Norway in Oslo in Roy Hodgson’s first game in charge.

England open their Euro 2012 campaign against France in Donetsk on Monday next week, but although they showcased plenty of defensive resilience against an enterprising Belgium team, they will face a much stiffer examination from Laurent Blanc’s men.

Indeed, Marc Wilmots’ side could even have returned home with a draw, but fullback Guillaume Gillet’s rasping 78th-minute drive hit the post.

The hosts also struck the woodwork late on, through substitute Jermain Defoe, while Wayne Rooney’s assured late cameo underlined just how much he will be missed when he sits out England’s first two games due to suspension.

Having lost Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry to injury last week, Hodgson also saw both his first-choice centerbacks, Gary Cahill (jaw) and John Terry (hamstring), depart the fray early at England’s national stadium.

“We’ve got another few injury concerns. Gary Cahill is slightly more of a concern because it’s a jaw injury,” Hodgson said. “We hope that the scan doesn’t show any fracture and that he can still play in the tournament. John Terry felt his hamstring. It wasn’t major, but we still need to scan it to be 100 percent sure.”

Beaten finalists at the last FIFA World Cup, the Netherlands proved that they would once again be a force to be reckoned with in Poland and Ukraine by trouncing Northern Ireland 6-0 in their final warmup match.

A brace from in-form Arsenal striker Robin van Persie, one a penalty, coupled with goals from Wesley Sneijder — a 25 yard free-kick — and Ibrahim Afellay, put the Netherlands 4-0 up at the break.

Further goals in the second half from Barcelona forward Afellay and centerback Ron Vlaar added extra gloss to a one-sided victory.

The Netherlands start the Euro against Denmark in Kharkiv on Saturday and Denmark also enjoyed victory on Saturday, prevailing 2-0 against Australia thanks to a penalty by Liverpool defender Daniel Agger and a close-range Andreas Bjelland effort.

Portugal, who make up Group B along with Germany, wrapped up their preparations in disappointing fashion by losing to Turkey in Lisbon, having previously recorded a pair of goalless draws against Poland and Macedonia.

Umut Bulut exploited hesitant home defending to put Turkey ahead in the 35th minute and the Toulouse striker had another mix-up at the back to thank for his second goal early in the second half.

Nani pulled a goal back shortly after, but Ronaldo then saw his penalty pushed away by Volkan Demirel and the night ended in farce for Paulo Bento’s side as Ricardo Costa’s attempted clearance struck Pepe and trickled in for an 88th-minute own goal.

Euro co-hosts Poland completed their preparations in style, crushing minnows Andorra 4-0 to extend their unbeaten run to four games — a run during which they have not conceded a goal.

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