Win for Spain boosts Euro 2000 preparations
In their first win against Italy in over 22 years, Spain confirmed their status as a strong favourite for the Euro 2000 title this June. In a friendly match played in Barcelona's Montjuic Olympic last night, the Spanish national team looked confident, winning 2-0 against an under-strength Italian side. It wasn't until the 61st minute that Real Betis' Alfonso Perez managed to open the scoring, despite Spain being the better side for most of the encounter. Italy looked lacking in ideas and sloppy defending led to both of Spain's goals, the second coming from a header by Barcelona defender Abelardo. Italy were missing their main striker, Inter's Christian Vieri, but had a number of chances to score. First-half keeper Jose Francisco Molina kept out a shot from Juventus striker Pippo Inzaghi and substitute keeper Santiago Canizares denied Totti in the 82nd minute. Commenting after the game, Spanish coach Jose Antonio Camacho described the performance as 'excellent', but alluding to the Euro 2000 competition added that 'it doesn't matter if we play well now. What matters is how well we do in two months time.' In other friendly games involving teams that have qualified for Euro 2000 finals, Portugal's Luis Figo scored the winner against Denmark to extend their unbeaten run to 13 games. The Danes had taken an early lead and dominated the opening phase of the first half, but a penlalty converted by Fiorentina's Rui Costa levelled the scores. A superb solo effort by Figo, who plays for Spanish champions Barcelona, clinched the win. In a bruising encounter Euro 2000 co-hosts Belgium and the Netherlands drew 2-2 after Patrick Kluivert netted twice to cancel out the Belgian's two goal lead. The friendly was marred by crowd trouble before the game, with dozens of Dutch fans arrested outisde the King Baudouin stadium in Brussels. The Czech Republic brushed aside Australia 3-1, despite four of their regular players being absent and Romanian morale suffered a blow after the side lost 2-0 against a depleted Greek side in Athens.