Clint Dempsey scored the USA's historic winner against Italy

Photo (c) Nathan Forget

Thursday, March 1, 2012

With all 16 of the teams who have qualified for Euro 2012 playing last night, the question of which team is most likely to win this summer's tournament now appears harder to answer than ever.

While Spain cruised to a 5-0 victory against the surprise stars of the Copa America, Venezuela, many people's other favourites for Euro glory - Germany - were defeated at home to France 2-1. After years of poor form, the French national team is suddenly one of the continent's leading sides and will look to go into Euro 2012 with a 20-match unbeaten record after making it 18 matches without defeat in Bremen.

No surprises, truthfully, at Wembley where Holland beat England 3-2 in Stuart Pearce's first game in charge of the national team. Although England looked comfortable in the first half they were cruelly exposed by the likes of Arjen Robben in the second half and although they came back from two goals down to level at 2-2 in the closing stages, the Dutch once again took advantage of poor marking in injury time to snatch a winner.

Sweden claimed one of the results of the evening with an impressive 3-1 away victory against Slaven Bilic's men. The Swedes played some delightful one-touch football at times and, on this evidence, will make Ukraine, France and England sweat for a second round slot in June from Group D.

Shock of the night must rate as the United States' 1-0 away victory in Italy. Clint Dempsey, arguably the player of the season in the English Premier League, did the damage for the Americans, making it the first US victory over Italy in 78 years and 11 attempts.

Photo (C) Tsutomu Takasu
Arjon Robben exposed England's defensive frailties