Euro 2008 warm-up wins for co-hosts, Czech Republic, Italy

May 31st, 2008 - 5:54 pm ICT by admin  

Hamburg, May 31 (DPA) Czech Republic and co-hosts Switzerland, who play the opening game of the European Championships next week, have chalked up victories in friendly internationals. World champions Italy meanwhile were impressive 3-1 winners over Belgium, while Switzerland’s co-hosts Austria enjoyed their first victory of the year in a 5-1 run out against Malta Friday.

The Czechs downed Scotland 3-1 in Prague in their last match before the tournament thanks to two goals from Libor Sionko and a late third from defender Michal Kadlec.

Sionko, who could fill the midfield role vacated by the injured Tomas Rosicky, scored in the 61st and 84th minutes before David Clarkson pulled one back for Scotland, who narrowly failed to qualify for Euro 2008.

Substitute Kadlec made sure of victory with his goal in the 89th minute.

Czech Republic meet Switzerland in the opening game of the Euro 2008 tournament on June 7.

The Swiss ran out 3-0 winners over Liechtenstein in Lugano, with Borussia Dortmund striker Alexander Frei bagging two in the first half and Johan Vonlanthen notching the third midway through the second.

Frei’s goals in the 23rd and 31st minutes make him Switzerland’s record goal scorer, taking him to 35 goals in 59 games for the national team, one more than Kubilay Turkyilmaz.

The Swiss players get together at their Euro 2008 base at Feusisberg near Zurich Monday. The Swiss and Czechs are in Group A along with Portugal and Turkey.

In Graz, Austria were comfortable winners against Malta, ending a series of five games without a victory.

Roland Linz (2), Rene Aufhauser, Ivica Vastic and Martin Harnik got the goals while Michael Milfsud was on target for Malta, who are 135 in the FIFA rankings.

Austria’s Euro 2008 campaign begins on June 8 against Croatia in Vienna, with Germany and Poland also opponents in Group B.

Italy meanwhile warmed up for the tournament with a convincing 3-1 defeat of Belgium in Florence.

Antonio Di Natale opened the account in the ninth minute after a fine pass from Andrea Pirlo, and the Udinese striker was again on target four minutes before half-time.

Mauro Camoranesi made it three in the 48th minute after a pass from Alessandro Del Piero who had come at half-time for Di Natale, before Belgium scored a late consolation.

Italy are hoping the victory in Florence is a good omen for the European Championships. Shortly before the 2006 World Cup they defeated Germany 4-1 at the same ground and went on to win the tournament.

The Italians begin their Euro 2008 campaign against the Netherlands June 9, and also face France and Romania in Group C.

It was a last test for coach Roberto Donadoni who tried two sets of attackers in each half, with Luca Toni and Di Natale replaced for the second 45 minutes by Del Piero and Antonio Cassano.

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