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  Coaches Reaction


Scolari rues backward step
Luiz Felipe Scolari felt defeat by Italy marked a "backward step" for his Portugal team. Here's the round-up of the  reaction to last night's friendlies.
Thursday, 01 April 2004

Portugal 1-2 Italy
Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari admitted his side had taken a "backward step" after Italy came from behind to beat the EURO 2004 hosts. "Portugal played with a lot of quality for the first 30 minutes but then lost consistency," said the Brazilian. "We conceded two goals that are inadmissible at this level. If against England we took a step forward to becoming the team we want to be, tonight we took a step backwards." 

Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni said: "We showed great character especially as we didn't lose our nerve after they went ahead." Trapattoni described Christian Vieri as "a warrior up front" and also highlighted Andrea Pirlo's contribution: "It was an important test for Andrea Pirlo and I'm really satisfied with his performance." 

Netherlands 0-0 France
France's winning sequence stopped at 14 as they drew in Rotterdam. Dutch coach Dick Advocaat praised Wesley Sneijder, a second-half substitute: "For the first 25 minutes of the second half it went really well, because Sneijder asked for the ball and gave some good passes from midfield, meaning we could reach our strikers who had been too isolated in the first half." 

His counterpart, Jacques Santini, said: "Bearing in mind the condition of the two teams and the way the game unfolded, a goalless draw is a good result. We gave a good collective response to the pressure the Dutch applied at the start of the second period." 

Spain 2-0 Denmark
Spain coach Iñaki Sáez felt his side had "reached a good level" in beating Denmark. "At the beginning of the match they had more opportunities, but we managed to change this situation," said the coach, who praised Fernando Morientes for his opening strike. "Morientes has quality and he scored a spectacular goal," he said 

Another player receiving praise was Denmark's Thomas Gravesen, Coach Morten Olsen said: "Gravesen did a great job and allowed us to have the majority of the possession." He added: "We played well, particularly in the first half but also for parts of the second. For most of the game we stopped Spain from producing scoring opportunities, the only thing that annoys me is we gave away two easy goals." 

Sweden 1-0 England
Sweden coach Lars Lagerbäck dwelt on some strong performances. "I think our defence was really good, and Källström and Christian Wilhelmsson showed what they are capable of," he said. "It was also a joy to watch Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as he has matured a lot. This was, in my opinion, his best appearance yet." 

England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson felt his side's first-half display meant they were "unlucky not to get a draw". He said: "I think that England played well in the first half, and we created a couple of good chances." Eriksson singled out striker Jermain Defoe who "showed huge skill" on his debut. "He's a very talented player, and made a huge impression on me today," said Eriksson. 

Bulgaria 2-2 Russia 
Bulgaria coach Plamen Markov said his side had "played much better" than in last month's defeat by Greece but there remained room for improvement. "We did not defend well and made some mistakes at the back," he said. "We could have lost as our opponents missed a penalty." 

Russia coach Georgi Yartsev was "delighted" after his side's first friendly of the year: "We really played very well against a strong Bulgaria side. The Russian league has just started recently so most of the players are still not in top form but I am delighted with our performance." 

Greece 1-0 Switzerland
Greece coach Otto Rehhagel felt his side had been fortunate to win. "I was only satisfied with the first hour of the game because we didn't extend our lead," said Rehhagel. "We were lucky Switzerland didn't equalise." 

His Swiss counterpart, Jakob Kuhn, said: "It's very simple, Greece were better. We made too many mistakes and lost too many balls too easily. But I must say that we had a lot of injuries and the match could have ended in a draw." 

Germany 3-0 Belgium
Germany impressed coach Rudi Völler with their second-half display. "We failed to create any pressure early on but luckily enough Kevin Kuranyi gave us the lead just before the break," said Völler. "After that we improved and got two more goals. I was actually quite pleased with the way we played in the second half. I also liked our performance at the back because Belgium hardly managed to create a chance." 

Slovenia 0-1 Latvia
Latvia coach Aleksandrs Starkovs praised his defenders, notably Vitalis Astafjevs who on his 100th appearance "proved he is the real leader of this side". He added: "I appreciated how Aleksandrs Kolinko marshalled the defence. It's also great to see Maris Verpakovskis score again. I think Arturs Zekresevskis has taken his chance in defence, while Andrejs Prohorenkovs proved that if Marians Pahars is not fit he is the best partner for Verpakovskis." 

Republic of Ireland 2-1 Czech Republic
After their first defeat for over two years, Czech coach Karel Brückner said: "That is the end of our unbeaten run - the team had not lost in 20 games and it was my first defeat as coach. I am not too concerned about losing the unbeaten record, I am more upset for the players than for myself." 

Croatia 2-2 Turkey
Coach Otto Baric identified Croatia's midfield as his chief cause for concern as he said: "Until now we've played well in attack and even defence, but it has not been the case with the midfield. So we tried other solutions but I am not satisfied - we were trying to play more down the wings but the pressure stayed on the players in the middle and there was a hole there." -




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