France, Germany lose at home; Netherlands held by Tunisia

February 12th, 2009 - 1:25 pm ICT by IANS  

David BeckhamHamburg, Feb 12 (DPA) France and Germany lost at home in friendly football internationals, while England fielded a record-equalling David Beckham but still slumped to a 2-0 defeat in Spain.
Germany were humbled 0-1 by Norway in Dusseldorf, while France was beaten 0-2 by Argentina in Marseille Wednesday.

In Dusseldorf, Christian Grindheim scored from close range in the 63rd minute to get a new spell in charge by coach Egil Olsen off to a winning start.

It was the second successive home defeat by Germany, who had been beaten 2-1 by England in November in Berlin.

There was little positive to take from the game for German coach Joachim Loew ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Wales.

“We can’t complain that we lost. We will learn our lessons from this, I can assure you,” he said.

“Norway were well organised, and we couldn’t switch from defence to attack quickly. There was a lot missing from our game. We lacked pace and created too few goal chances. Norway had all the time in the world to get 10 men behind the ball,” he said.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was the inspiration for Argentina, who scored towards the end of each half. Jonas Gutierrez gave the South Americans the lead four minutes from the break, before Messi put the game beyond doubt in the 82nd minute.

In Sevilla, strikers David Villa and Fernando Llorente netted for Spain, who could have won by a greater margin. This is the third time within five years that Spain - who are now unbeaten in 29 games - have defeated England.

Llorente said that he was “very happy” to score his first goal for Spain: “I hope there are many more to come.”

Defender Gerard Pique, making his international debut in the Spanish defence, said: “It is quite easy to come into this team, because of the way that they play.”

England coach Fabio Capello kept former captain David Beckham on the bench for the start of the game, but brought on the midfielder, who is currently on loan to AC Milan from his US club the Los Angeles Galaxy, for the start of the second half.

Beckham, 33, who is keen for a permanent move to Serie A, thereby equalled Bobby Moore’s record of 108 England matches for an outfield player. Only goalkeeper Peter Shilton with 125 games has been capped more often.

Beckham though, could not inspire his team-mates to a better performance, and Spain deservedly ran out 2-0 winners.

In Radis, Real Madrid striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar gave the visiting Dutch side the lead just on the hour against Tunisia, but French-born Jamal Saihi, who holds French, Tunisian and Algerian citizenship, equalised in the 66th minute.

The North Africans were not the only African side to avoid defeat against a team from Europe, as a last-minute Didier Drogba equaliser gave Ivory Coast a 1-1 draw in Turkey, and the Czech Republic played to a goalless draw in Morocco.

Romania drew 1-1 against Croatia, while Greece drew 1-1 with Denmark.

Austria lost yet again, going down 2-0 to Sweden, while Switzerland played to a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria.

A late goal from Roger Guerreiro gave Poland a 1-0 victory over Wales in a match played in Portugal. The Brazilian-born player lobbed goalkeeper Boaz Myhill from outside the area 10 minutes from time in Vila Real St Antonio.

The result was a boost for coach Leo Beenhakker’s side ahead of a World Cup qualifying Group 3 match against Northern Ireland on March 28 in Belfast.

Poland are two points behind Slovakia in the group, level on points with the Czech Republic and Slovenia.

John Toshack’s Wales side face World Cup home qualifiers on March 28 against Finland and April 1 with Germany, the Group 4 leaders.

In other friendlies, Latvia and Armenia played to a goalless draw in Cyprus, while Moldova and Macedonia drew 1-1 in a game played in Turkey. Kazakhstan beat Estonia 2-0.

Iceland, meanwhile, beat Liechtenstein 2-0 with goals by Arnor Smarason and Barcelona striker Eidur Gudjohnsen.

Slovakia lost 3-2 in Cyprus, while Israel continued with their fine form with a 1-0 victory over Hungary.

Ukraine won 1-0 in Serbia, while Lithuania had no problems overcoming European footballing minnow Andorra 3-1.

The final games on the night saw Belgium beat Slovenia 2-0, while Portugal won 1-0 against Finland.

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