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Winning start for Spain's Del Bosque; Italy draws

Winning start for Spain's Del Bosque; Italy draws

World champion Italy and England both salvaged draws Wednesday in their final matches before the start of World Cup qualifying, while European champion Spain enjoyed a winning start to life under new coach Vicente Del Bosque.
Two months after Luis Aragones ended Spain's 44-year wait for a major trophy, his successor began his tenure a 3-0 victory over Denmark. Euro 2008 runner-up Germany continued its strong form with a 2-0 win over Belgium.
Returning coaches had mixed fortunes. Italy's Marcello Lippi saw his 2006 World Cup-winning side rally from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Austria, while Carlos Queiroz began a second spell leading Portugal with a 5-0 rout of the Faeroe Islands.
Despite England salvaging a 2-2 draw against the Czech Republic in stoppage time, Fabio Capello's side was outclassed and jeered by a disappointed Wembley crowd.
France rallied from a 1-0 deficit to beat Sweden 3-2, Russia drew 1-1 with the Netherlands, and Argentina, missing its best players to Olympic duty, was held to a scoreless draw at Belarus.
In Copenhagen, Del Bosque's triumphant debut extended Spain's winning streak to 23 matches but was overshadowed by Wednesday's plane crash at a Madrid airport, which claimed more than 150 lives. A minute's silence was held before kickoff, and set the tone for the first half.
"It has been a very painful day for the fatal accident and I want to send my condolences to all the families of the victims," Del Bosque said.
It took Xabi Alonso replacing David Villa at halftime to energize the Spanish, and the midfielder volleyed the visitors ahead in the 50th minute after taking a pass from Liverpool teammate Fernando Torres.
After playmaker Xavi Hernandez doubled the advantage in the 73rd with a low shot, Alonso _ unaffected by uncertainty over his future at Liverpool _ added a third in stoppage time, slotting in a half-volley from close range after a pass from Diego Capel.
"We started slowly. You need to be consistent. In the first half we could have been trailing," Del Bosque said. "I am very happy about the victory."
Lippi, who resigned as Italy coach after the team earned its fourth World Cup title in 2006, endured an unpleasant return when defender Emanuel Pogatetz put Austria ahead in the 14th after catching goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon by surprise.
Marc Janko, who has already scored seven times in five matches for Salzburg this season, added a second in the 39th by sending a deflected strike flying into the top corner.
Just as Italy's prospects looked grim, Alberto Gilardino pulled one back in first-half injury time. Then as Austria's substitute goalkeeper Ramazan Oezcan tried to punch away a cross in the 67th, he managed to knock the ball into his own net for the equalizer.
"It was great to be back though not so nice to start out down 2-0," said Lippi, whose Italy debut was a 2-0 loss to Iceland in 2004. "I'm happy with this result because we created many chances and my players looked for the win up to the final whistle."
Roberto Donadoni's reign ended after Italy was eliminated by Spain on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of the European Championship in June.
At Wembley, England began confidently, but the Czechs completed a slick passing sequence down the left flank to take a surprise lead.
Milan Baros turned away from England captain John Terry to strike his 32nd international goal with the ball deflecting off defender Ashley Cole.
David Beckham's precise corner set up the equalizer just before halftime, with Wes Brown heading it in at the near post.
England was behind again three minutes after the break when Marek Jankulovski left goalkeeper David James flat-footed by curling a left-footed free kick from the edge of the area over the wall and into the top corner.
James nearly gifted the visitors a third when he charged 30 meters from goal to intercept the ball on the right-hand touchline. Vaclav Sverkos rounded the stranded goalkeeper but could shoot only wide.
Capello, who took charge of England in January, was spared a second defeat when second-half substitute Joe Cole snatched a scrappy equalizer in stoppage time after a scramble in the Czech goalmouth.
"The Czech counterattack was very dangerous and we need to work on that," Capello said. "I learned things that when the other team counterattack we have problems.
"We are just starting the season and some players are not at the top physically and I'm sure in the next game we will be better."
England, which failed to qualify for Euro 2008, opens World Cup qualifying with away matches against Andorra on Sept. 6 and Croatia four days later.
Despite star winger Cristiano Ronaldo being injured, Portugal rebounded from underperforming at Euro 2008 with a dominating victory over the Faeroe Islands.
Carlos Martins, Simao Sabrosa, Duda, Bruno Alves and Nani scored in Queiroz's first match in charge since November 1993, when he quit after failing to lead Portugal to the 1994 World Cup finals.
"I'm very happy and especially excited by the Portuguese display," Queiroz said. "We moved the ball around well and we managed to create a lot of chances. We're ready for the next phase of work."
Germany went ahead through Bastian Schweinsteiger's penalty in the 59th after Daniel van Buyten had pulled down Mario Gomez, and substitute Marko Marin added the second in the 77th.
Germany played without several injured starters, including captain Michael Ballack and Torsten Frings.
"So early in the season, with a fairly new lineup, we played quite well," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "We tried to play at high pace, we passed well, the second goal was well created."
Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov scored twice as Bulgaria won 2-1 at Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The first European World Cup qualifier was also played, with Kazakhstan beating Andorra 3-0 in Group Six, which features England and Croatia.
Elsewhere, Croatia came back from behind twice to edge neighbor Slovenia 3-2, Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland and Ukraine drew 1-1, Turkey edged Chile 1-0, Georgia won 2-1 at Wales, Norway held Ireland to 1-1, Greece overcame Slovakia 2-0, while Scotland and Northern Ireland played out a goalless draw.