BECKHAM LOSS AT CENTURY: France's William Gallas (left) and England's David Beckham react, after their friendly soccer match at Stade de France stadium in Saint Denis on Wednesday. France won 1-0.(AP/Michel Euler)
France spoiled David Beckham’s 100th appearance for England and Spain beat World Cup champion Italy in friendly games Wednesday.
The Netherlands rallied from a three-goal hole to beat Austria 4-3 as the 16 European Championship teams saw action. One of those nations, Poland, was routed 3-0 by the United States.
In an Asian World Cup qualifier, South Korea tied North Korea 0-0.
With England failing to qualify for Euros, the team hoped for a win to mark Beckham’s momentous appearance for his national team. But Franck Ribery scored from the penalty spot in the 32nd minute after England goalkeeper David James raced off his line and fouled Nicolas Anelka.
“I was happy to start the game, but it was more about getting on the pitch, getting that 100th cap,” Beckham said.
While France readies for Euro 2008, England coach Fabio Capello is trying to build a team capable of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. But his team did little to worry France goalkeeper Gregory Coupet.
“We were able to stop them playing their game. It was more of an intelligent match than a spectacular one,” France coach Raymond Domenech said. “We have a solid platform to build on. You don’t go far in a major competition unless you are well organized.”
Which is exactly what the Spaniards were in their 1-0 victory over Italy, scoring on a 78th-minute volley from David Villa. The Valencia striker met Fabio Cannavaro’s headed clearance just inside the area and curled his shot past outstretched goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon into the top left of the goal.
“It was a difficult match … but we executed nearly perfectly,” Spain coach Luis Aragones said. “There’s still a lot of time until the Euro, though.”
Spain, which beat World Cup finalist France 1-0 last month, extended its unbeaten run to 14 games—a stretch of more than 16 months.
Defending Euro champion Greece, Germany, and Romania also won, while the Czech Republic, Croatia and Turkey played to ties. Sweden, Russia, Portugal and Switzerland lost.
In the Netherland’s impressive comeback at Vienna, site of the Euros title game in June, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored two goals, including the winner in the 86th minute. Austria was leading 3-0 on two goals from Sebastian Prodl and another from Andreas Ivanschitz. But Huntelaar started the comeback in the 38th minute, with John Heitinga and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink also scoring to make it 3-3.
“We got 3-0 behind due to personal errors by our defenders, not because we were outplayed by Austria,” Netherlands coach Marco van Basten said. “But I was a bit surprised by their attacking and quick play in the opening 30 minutes.”
Poland lost badly to the United States, which got goals from Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu and Eddie Lewis. The three-goal margin of victory was the largest for the Americans in Europe since 1998.
“We did well to finish on our set pieces today, which is a big part of our game,” Bocanegra said. “We took our chances, so we were able to sit back and they had to attack us, which makes it a bit easier for the team, because they had to chase the game since we got an early goal. But it definitely was not an easy game.”
At London in a rematch of the 1958 World Cup final, Sweden lost to Brazil 1-0 when 18-year-old Alexandre Pato scored in the 72nd minute, helped by a major blunder from substitute Sweden goalkeeper Rami Shaaban.
Mario Gomez helped his chances of making the German squad for Euro 2008 with two goals and an assist in a 4-0 win over Switzerland.
Defending European champion Greece maintained its 12-year unbeaten streak over Portugal with a 2-1 win in Duesseldorf, Germany. It was the first time the two countries played since the final of the 2004 European Championship, which Greece won 1-0.
Georgios Karagounis scored both goals against Portugal, which was missing star playmakers Cristiano Ronaldo and Deco.
Romania showed its potential when it beat Russia 3-0 in Bucharest on goals from Ciprian Marica, Daniel Niculae and Marius Niculae.
Croatia was held to a 1-1 draw by Scotland. Turkey drew 2-2 at Belarus. Jan Koller scored to salvage a 1-1 draw for the Czech Republic against Denmark.
Argentina beat Egypt 2-0 in Cairo on goals from Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Burdisso, and Mexico rallied to beat Ghana 2-1 in London.
After the politically charged World Cup qualifier in Shanghai, China, ended 0-0, North Korean players walked to the far end of the field to bow and wave to thousands of South Korean fans. South Korean players picked up on the gesture, standing in a line and waving to hundreds of North Korean supporters at Hongkou Stadium.
DUEL IN THE AIR: France's Jeremy Toulalan (left) David Trezeguet (2nd right) England's Rio Ferdinand (2nd left) and Owen Hargreaves (right) challenge for the ball during their friendly soccer match at Stade de France stadium in Saint Denis, outskirts of Paris, Wednesday.
“The next time in Seoul, I want to play in the same atmosphere like this because we are brothers, the same people,” said North Korea player Hong Yong Ho, already looking forward to the June 22 rematch.
Also in Asian qualifying, it was China 0, Australia 0; Qatar 2, Iraq 0; Bahrain 1, Japan 0; Oman 1, Thailand 0; Jordan 2, Turkmenistan 0; Singapore 2, Lebanon 0; Uzbekistan 3, Saudi Arabia 0; Kuwait 2, Iran 2; and Syria 1, United Arab Emirates 1.
In early-round CONCACAF qualifying, it was Barbados 1, Dominica 0; El Salvador 4, Anguilla 0; St. Lucia 2, Turks and Caicos 0; Grenada 10, U.S. Virgin Island 0; Antigua and Barbuda 1, Aruba 0; St. Kitts and Nevis 1, Belize 1; Netherlands Antilles 2, Nicaragua 0; Puerto Rico 1, Dominican Republic 0; Bahamas 1, British Virgin Islands 1; and Suriname 7, Montserrat 1.
Barbados will play the United States in a home-and-home series in June. El Salvador moves on to face Panama in the second round.
Antigua and Barbuda also advanced, as did Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Netherlands Antilles and Belize, which plays Mexico in the next round. St. Lucia will take on Guatemala and Netherlands Antilles faces Haiti in the next round.