Arjen Robben’s injury-time goal gave the Netherlands a 3-2 win against England in a tuneup for soccer’s European Championship, and France beat Germany 2-1 in another exhibition between Euro 2012 qualifiers.
Robben and Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored two minutes apart to put the Netherlands 2-0 up at Wembley Stadium in London last night before Gary Cahill and Ashley Young tied it. Robben then thwarted England’s comeback by curling a shot into the net.
“We probably showed a little bit of naivety and a slight lack of belief,” England caretaker manager Stuart Pearce told ITV. “That’s something we’ve got to get into the squad going forward. Once we got ourselves back into the game, we’re disappointed to have been beaten.”
All 16 teams participating in the June 8-July 1 continental championships in Poland and Ukraine were in action yesterday as the tournament marked its 100-day countdown.
Roberto Soldado scored three goals as defending European champion Spain routed Venezuela 5-0, Italy was upset 1-0 by the U.S., Russia defeated Denmark 2-0, Sweden beat Croatia 3-1 and Ukraine topped Israel 3-2.
In the first game at the Warsaw stadium that will host the Euro 2012 opener, Poland and Portugal played to a scoreless draw. Greece, which faces Poland in the opening match, tied 1-1 with Belgium and the Republic of Ireland extended its unbeaten run to 12 games with a 1-1 home draw against the Czech Republic.
England, playing for the first time since Fabio Capello quit as manager following the Football Association’s decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy, slipped to its first defeat since a 2-1 loss against France in November 2010.
The Netherlands went 2-0 up just before the hour mark as Robben finished off a run from his own half with a low shot and Huntelaar then headed past England goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Cahill pulled a goal back in the 85th minute and Young’s chip five minutes later made it 2-2. Robben curled his shot beyond Hart in the second minute of stoppage time as the Netherlands, the runner-up to Spain at the 2010 World Cup, rebounded from a 3-0 loss to Germany in its previous game.
“It was not all good, but basically it was a deserved victory,” Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said in comments on UEFA’s website. “To win here at Wembley is not bad.”
Goals by Olivier Giroud and Florent Malouda gave France the victory in Bremen, extending Les Blues’ unbeaten run to 18 matches. Brazil-born striker Cacau scored a late consolation goal for record three-time European champion Germany.
In Malaga, Andres Iniesta and David Silva put world and European champion Spain 2-0 up against Venezuela before substitute Soldado scored his hat trick after halftime.
Sebastian Larsson came off the bench to score twice in Sweden’s win against fellow Euro 2012 qualifier Croatia in Zagreb, while Andrey Arshavin got one goal and set up the other in Russia’s win against Denmark in Copenhagen.
Clint Dempsey’s second-half goal sent Italy to its first defeat in 11 meetings against the U.S., which is coached by Jurgen Klinsmann, who captained Germany to its last European Championship title in 1996.
“With 100 days to go before the European Championship, I am not worried,” said Italy coach Cesare Prandelli. “I liked the way the team played and the defeat was undeserved.”
In exhibitions featuring teams not going to the tournament, Lionel Messi scored his first international hat trick in Argentina’s 3-1 win against Switzerland, while Wales lost 1-0 to Costa Rica in a memorial match for former manager Gary Speed, who died in November at age 42.