Schadenfreude is all British supporters have left to revel in over the course of this summer's meaningful international action and Germany, the country that kindly gifted it to the world, delivered a first taste last night as they squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Belarus in their penultimate game before making the short journey to Austria to assume their standing as the favourites for Euro 2008.
Jens Lehmann, who had taken over the captaincy when Michael Ballack was substituted, conceded two goals to Vitali Bulyga, a striker who plays his club football in Siberia, the second two minutes from the end in Kaiserslautern. "Some of the players were tired. They have trained very hard in the past few days and you could see that," said the Germany coach, Joachim Low. "All the players will be in better form in 12 days."
Germany had been two up after 23 minutes. Miroslav Klose scored from close range for the three-times European champions in the 11th minute and they doubled their lead when David Odonkor's right-wing cross deflected in off Vladimir Korytko for an own goal.
France's preparations appear much smoother ahead of taking their place in Group C with Italy, Netherlands and Romania. Last night they beat Ecuador 2-0 in Grenoble, Bafetimbi Gomis scoring both goals on his debut to advance his claims for a place in Raymond Domenech's 23-man squad. The French coach makes his final selection today and the 23-year-old St Etienne striker produced two high-class strikes to underline his potential after coming off the bench at half-time, the first a turn and shot from the edge of the box, the second a smartly volleyed conversion of Nicolas Anelka's cross.
Austria, the co-hosts, continued their underwhelming build-up with a 1-1 draw against Nigeria in Graz. They have now won just once in 14 games.
Jan Koller took his international tally to 54 in 86 games with both goals in the Czech Republic's 2-0 win over Lithuania. The Czechs host Scotland in Prague on Friday in their final warm-up game.Reuse content