Greece suffer defeat in friendly
London, May 25:
Defending European champion Greece suffered a second-half collapse on Saturday and lost their final preparation match while the Netherlands, Croatia and Switzerland continued their mobilization for the upcoming continental championship with victories.
The Greeks allowed three goals in 16 minutes and lost 3-2 to Hungary, their last friendly before beginning defense of their crown.
Dirk Kuyt, Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Ryan Babel all scored to help the Netherlands over Ukraine 3-0; Niko Kovac’s first-half goal lifted Croatia past Moldova 1-0; and Valon Behrami had a goal and set up another to help Switzerland beat Slovakia 2-0 and snap a four-match losing streak.
In Budapest, Hungary, Balazs Dzsudzsak, Roland Juhasz and Krisztian Vadocz all scored to put Hungary ahead 3-1 by the 63rd minute, beating substitute goalkeeper Konstantinos Chalkias, who replaced Antonios Nikopolidis after he was injured in the 22nd minute. The result was a winning debut for Hungary manager Erwin Koeman, brother of Barcelona defender Ronald Koeman who replaced Peter Varhidi earlier this month. It was Hungary’s first win in eight matches against Greece, a streak dating back to 1987.
In Rotterdam, Netherlands, Kuyt’s first international goal in nearly a year put the Netherlands in front when the Liverpool forward headed in Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s cross in the 22rd minute. Huntelaar doubled the lead with a shot from inside the area in the 37th after Rafael van der Vaart’s pass. Van der Vaart turned provider again in the 63rd, setting up substitute Babel for the third.”We started well,” Van der Vaart said. “New guys were there and it went well. It was a good test.”
In Rijeka, Croatia, Kovac’s header in the 30th off a cross from Ivan Rakitic followed a period in which Igor Budan, Ivica Olic and Rakitic produced five consecutive chances in the first 10 minutes. Croatia also will face Hungary in Budapest on May 31 before heading to Vienna to open its Euro 2008 campaign against co-host Austria on June 8.
The match gave Croatia manager Slaven Bilic one of his last chances to test players like Schalke’s Rakitic, Parma’s Budan and HSV’s Olic, who will need to replace striker Eduardo Da Silva. The Brazilian-born winger who plays for Arsenal will miss the championship due to a broken left leg and dislocated ankle.
In Lugano, Switzerland, Behrami ended the goalless duel a well-worked goal in the 56th. Defender Philippe Senderos played the ball out wide on the right to Behrami, who slipped a pass inside to Gokhan Inler.
The midfielder’s shot was parried by Slovak goalie Jan Mucha, but straight into the direction of Behrami who scored from 10 yards. It was only his second goal in 15 international matches. In the 63rd minute, Behrami combined with Alexander Frei for the insurance. Johan Vonlanthen played Behrami through and the Lazio player pushed it past the onrushing Mucha, leaving Frei a simple tap-in for his 33rd goal in 58 internationals.