/ Soccer

Italy and Croatia beaten, Spain win

Updated: Wednesday, 29 Feb 2012 22:46

Clint Dempsey blasts home the game's only goal against Italy
Clint Dempsey blasts home the game's only goal against Italy

Clint Dempsey fired the United States to a 1-0 friendly win over Italy to leave the Azzurri's Euro 2012 plans in further disarray.

Dempsey netted 10 minutes into the second half after good work from Jozy Altidore in a largely deserved victory for Juergen Klinsmann's visitors.

Italy had a new look attack given Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi are facing a race to be fit for June's tournament while Mario Balotelli was omitted from the squad for continued disciplinary problems.

However, forwards Alessandro Matri and Sebastian Giovinco struggled to make an impact and a second-half shift to a front three also failed to work, meaning Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has much head scratching to do with two warmups left.

Roberto Soldado pushed his Euro 2012 claims with a hat-trick in Spain's 5-0 win over 10-man Venezuela.

In the absence of regular strikers David Villa and Fernando Torres the Valencia man shone, and could even afford to miss a 66th-minute penalty.

Andres Iniesta and David Silva had already fired Spain 2-0 ahead before Soldado took over in the second half. Venezuela had Fernando Amorebieta sent off before Soldado missed his spot kick.

Substitute Sebastian Larsson scored twice as Sweden beat Croatia 3-1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (13 pen) opened the scoring before a Jonas Olsson own goal (44) levelled matters.

Croatia's back four looked in trouble every time the visitors went forward while their midfield looked bereft of ideas and the strikers lacked bite.

Sweden's first purposeful attack produced a penalty as Pletikosa hauled down Rasmus Elm and Ibrahimovic drilled the spot kick into the bottom right corner.

Olsson's comical intervention, when he headed a long ball by Gordon Schildenfeld past advancing keeper Andreas Isaksson, only delayed the inevitable as Ibrahimovic's class made all the difference in the second half.

His darting run resulted in Larsson's first goal straight after the restart and he then took out two defenders with a perfectly weighted pass which left the Sunderland midfielder with a simple finish in the 69th minute.

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