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Italy, England held, Spain wins in friendlies

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 Spain ended its 44-year wait for a major trophy, Luis Aragones' successor began his tenure a 3-0 victory over Denmark. Euro 2008 runner-up Germany had 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.
The penultimate round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying also began Wednesday, with Sven-Goran Eriksson's Mexico getting a fright before winning, while the United States recorded an away win.
Elsewhere in European friendlies, France rallied from a 1-0 deficit to beat Sweden 3-2, Russia drew 1-1 with the Netherlands, and Argentina, missing key players on Olympic duty, was held to a scoreless draw at Belarus.
In Copenhagen, Del Bosque's 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 the introduction of Xabi Alonso at halftime to energize Spain, and the midfielder volleyed the visitors ahead in the 50th minute after taking a pass from Liverpool teammate Fernando Torres.
Playmaker Xavi doubled the advantage in the 73rd with a low shot, before Alonso _ who has an uncertain future at Liverpool _ added a third in stoppage time, slotting in a half-volley from close range.
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 into the top corner.
Fiorentina striker Alberto Gilardino pulled one back for Italy 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. "I'm happy with this result because we created many chances and my players looked for the win up to the final whistle."
At Wembley, England began confidently, but the Czechs completed a slick passing sequence down the left flank to take a surprise lead as Milan Baros turned away from his marker to strike his 32nd international goal, with the ball deflecting off a defender.
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 curled a free kick from the edge of the area over the wall and into the top corner.
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 predictably dominated 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 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.
In CONCACAF qualifying, Mexico _ playing its first serious match under new manager Eriksson _ looked at threat of a shock home defeat by Honduras when it trailed 1-0 past the halfway point of the second half before two long-range Pavel Pardo shots within three minutes secured a 2-1 win.
In the other Group 2 match, Canada was held 1-1 at home by Jamaica.
In Group 1, the U.S. came away from its visit to Guatemala with a 1-0 win thanks to a 69th minute header by Carlos Bocanegra, while Trinidad and Tobago won 3-1 away at Cuba. The Soca Warriors were 3-0 up before having a man sent off and conceding a late goal.
A penalty in the first minute of the second half was enough for home team Costa Rica to beat El Salvador 1-0 in Group 3. The other group game saw Haiti draw 2-2 at home against Surinam.
The top teams from each group will progress to the final round of qualifying, from which the top three qualify for the World Cup and the fourth goes into a playoff against a South American opponent.

Updated : 2021-08-05 05:37 GMT+08:00