Finns take heart from friendlies

Finland followed a 2-2 draw with Spain by beating the Netherlands 1-0 in two Las Palmas friendlies.

WOMEN'S EURO 2005 contenders Finland emerged from their Las Palmas training base unbeaten in two friendlies, following a 2-2 draw with Spain by beating the Netherlands 1-0.

Finland lead
After four days' worth of preparation for their first game since qualifying for England last year, Finland took on the home nation on Tuesday. Michael Käld's side were on top early on and went ahead through Sanna Talonen, beating the goalkeeper and finding the left-hand corner after good work from Anna-Kaisa Rantanen and Laura Kalmari.

Spain equalise
Spain, third in their UEFA European Women's Championship qualifying group behind Denmark and Norway, responded well, with swift counterattacks, and levelled on 25 minutes when Finland goalkeeper Virva Junkkari could only parry a free-kick and Laura Del Rio tapped in.

Raquel penalty
Just before the break, Spain went ahead. Junkkari fouled a Spanish forward as she collided with both the striker and chasing Finland right-back Petra Vaelma, and Raquel Cabezon converted the penalty.

Uusi-Luomalahti levels
At half-time, Käld told his team to switch the ball from flank to flank more to unsettle Spain, and Finland were indeed dominant from then on. Finally, with 19 minutes left, the ball was played back to Terhi Uusi-Luomalahti after her own throw-in and her curling shot from 20 metres levelled the scores.

'Good result'
Laura Kalmari went close late on, but Käld was pleased after the game, saying: "This was not only a good result for us, but I am also satisfied with our performance."

Lindqvist chance
Three days later, his side defeated the Netherlands. There were a trio of changes to the team, Linda Lindqvist making her first start up front, Tiina Salmén stepping into central defence and Minna Mustonen playing on the right of midfield.

Mäkinen winner
Lindqvist in particular justified her inclusion, but it was Anne Mäkinen, on her 84th appearance, who combined for the 37th-minute winner. Kalmari received the ball on the halfway line and her first-time pass set up Minna Mustonen to break and cross for Mäkinen to head her 12th international goal.

'Quality passes'
Talonen, on for Lindqvist in the second half, nearly added a second after the break, only to be twice denied by the goalkeeper. Finland could not increase their lead, but Käld was again happy, declaring: "I have to say I am satisfied. The players produced many quality passes, and our defence succeeded in eliminating the Dutch threat almost totally."

Next fixtures
He added: "It has been a tough week, but a very successful one. The facilities, training sessions and matches served our purpose extremely well." Finland now head for Portugal and the Algarve Cup, starting against Denmark on 9 March and also meeting the United States and France in a tough group. Their WOMEN'S EURO campaign starts against hosts England on 5 June.