England sign off for Euro with win as Dutch cruise

03 June 2012 02:47

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 June 11 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 full-back 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 earlier this week, Hodgson also saw both his first-choice centre-backs, 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 World Cup, the Netherlands proved that they will once again be a force to be reckoned with in Poland and Ukraine by trouncing Northern Ireland 6-0 in their final warm-up 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 Holland 4-0 up at the break.

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

The Netherlands start the Euro against Denmark in Kharkiv on June 9 and the Danes 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.

Portual, 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.

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.

Elsewhere, Croatia were denied victory by a close-range 92nd-minute header from Tarik Elyounoussi in a 1-1 draw against Norway.

Shakhtar Donetsk striker Eduardo had broken the deadlock in the 79th minute for Croatia, who will face Italy, the Republic of Ireland and holders Spain in Group C.

Source: AFP