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Blanc spoils night of winning starts

Laurent Blanc's first game in charge of France ended in a 2-1 loss in Norway though the coaches of Greece, Russia and Turkey enjoyed winning starts to their tenures on a busy night of action.

Wednesday's international friendlies ©AFP

The coaches of Greece, Russia and Turkey all savoured winning starts to their reigns on Wednesday, and Dennis Rommedahl, Roman Shirokov and Zlatan Ibrahimović all, too, had cause for celebration. There was more disappointment for France and new boss Laurent Blanc, however, as UEFA.com sums up a busy night of friendly action.

Blanc named six debutants as he took his bow in Norway and the outlook was rosy when Hatem Ben Arfa's long-range strike (48) put them in front. Erik Huseklepp swiftly equalised, however, and tipped the match in the hosts' favour 19 minutes from time with his second. "Losing is always annoying; you always prepare to win a game," said Blanc. "Looking beyond the scoreline I saw some interesting things."

Shirokov, meanwhile, scored in the stadium where he plays his club football as Russia began life under Dick Advocaat with a 1-0 win against Bulgaria. The FC Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder, winning his first cap since June 2008, volleyed in his maiden international goal on six minutes after goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov spilled Andrei Arshavin's cross. "It's always important to win the first match," Advocaat said. "Winning 1-0 is a good result but we know we have to improve."

Turkey had to wait longer to open the scoring at home to Romania but a penalty from Emre Belözoğlu (82) and Arda Turan's long-range effort (86) ensured former Russia trainer Guus Hiddink began his tenure on a high. "It's nice to win in my first match," he said. "However, we need to defend better as a team and at times our players had a tendency to slow the tempo, which I didn't like. We'll focus on these areas and hope to improve them." Greece – playing their first match under Fernando Santos – also triumphed, Dimitris Salpigidis scoring the only goal of their encounter with Serbia on the stroke of half-time.

Ibrahimović came out of international retirement last month and showed Sweden what they had been missing by opening the scoring in a 3-0 home win against Scotland. Elsewhere, England recovered from a goal down to beat Hungary 2-1 thanks to Steven Gerrard's double. "We played well for the first 30 minutes but not so well for the last ten," said manager Fabio Capello. "In the second half we saw some different, young players and the performance was very good."

Germany were on course for a victory of their own when Patrick Helmes put them two up 17 minutes from time against Denmark in Copenhagen. The hosts rallied, salvaging a 2-2 draw courtesy of Rommedahl, on his 100th appearance, and Mads Junker. Joachim Löw, who rested many of the players who helped Germany to the FIFA World Cup semi-finals, said: "It wasn't a competitive match and we fielded a completely new team. I could not have expected more from them."

Austria, for whom Christian Fuchs missed a penalty, lost 1-0 at home to a youthful Switzerland team, Moreno Costanzo the match-winner on 73 minutes. "You always have to be happy if you manage to win, but we were lucky," admitted Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

International friendly results, 11 August 2010
Kazakhstan 3-1 Oman
Russia 1-0 Bulgaria
Lithuania 0-2 Belarus
Armenia 1-3 Iran
Azerbaijan 1-1 Kuwait
Finland 1-0 Belgium
Moldova 0-0 Georgia
Cyprus 1-0 Andorra
Turkey 2-0 Romania
Malta 1-1 Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Sweden 3-0 Scotland
Czech Republic 4-1 Latvia
Albania 1-0 Uzbekistan
Austria 0-1 Switzerland
Denmark 2-2 Germany
Montenegro 2-0 Northern Ireland
Serbia 0-1 Greece
Slovakia 1-1 Croatia
Slovenia 2-0 Australia
Wales 5-1 Luxembourg
England 2-1 Hungary
Norway 2-1 France
Iceland 1-1 Liechtenstein

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