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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

England wins Capello coaching debut

Germany, Italy and the Netherlands continued their preparations for this year's European Championship by winning international exhibition matches Wednesday, and new England coach Fabio Capello also got off to a winning start.

Germany won 3-0 at Austria, which is set to co-host the June 7-29 competition with Switzerland, while Italy beat Portugal 3-1 and the Netherlands defeated host Croatia 3-0 on goals by Johnny Heitinga, Klaus-Jan Huntelaar and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.

England, which failed to qualify for Euro 2008, beat Switzerland 2-1 at Wembley in Capello's first match as national team coach.

Defending European champion Greece also won, beating Finland 2-1, while Poland surprised the Czech Republic 2-0 and Spain beat France 1-0.

With Romania losing at Israel 1-0 and Sweden drawing 0-0 at Turkey, Russia was the only one of the 16 teams set to contest the European Championship that wasn't in action.

Record three-time European champion Germany won in Vienna on second-half goals by Thomas Hitzlsperger, Miroslav Klose and substitute Mario Gomez.

"This result does not reflect the match properly. We could have been at least 1-0 down after the first half," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "We had too many mistakes in every department of the game and I can't be satisfied with that."

Austria and Germany meet each other again in the final Group B match at Vienna's Ernst Happel Stadium on June 16. Poland and Croatia are the other teams in that group.

Poland beat the Czechs on first-half goals by Wojciech Lobodzinski and Mariusz Lewandowski, while the Netherlands eased past Croatia in Split even through it was missing the injured Ruud van Nistelrooy, Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Clarence Seedorf.

"I think people will take notice of this," Netherlands coach Marco Van Basten said. "Winning 3-0 away with a number of replacements is very satisfying."

It was a poor performance for Croatia in its first match since beating England 3-2 at Wembley in November, a result that denied the English a place at Euro 2008.

England fired its coach after that match and hired former Real Madrid and Juventus manager Capello, who marked his debut in international soccer with a victory.

"It's a good platform for us, getting off to a winning start," England captain Steven Gerrard said. "He wants us to be really difficult to beat and he wants us to be exciting going forward, but it's going to take time."

England looked disjointed early on, but Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas put it ahead in the 40th minute. Switzerland striker Eren Derdiyok made it 1-1 in the 58th, but substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips restored his team's lead four minutes later with a close-range shot.

World Cup champion Italy, which won its only European Championship 30 years ago, beat 2004 runner-up Portugal in Geneva on goals by Luca Toni, Andrea Pirlo and Fabio Quagliarella.

Portugal got its only goal through Ricardo Quaresma as the Swiss city practiced hosting a match in preparation for Euro 2008.

Joan Capdevila's 80th-minute goal gave Spain a 1-0 victory over two-time European champion France in Malaga, while Costas Katsouranis scored a long-range winner as Greece rallied to beat Finland.

In other matches, five-time World Cup champion Brazil won at Ireland 1-0 when Real Madrid striker Robinho side-footed a shot through the legs of Lee Carsley and past diving goalkeeper Shay Given.

Wales beat visiting Norway 3-0 with Jason Koumas scoring twice, and Bulgaria won at Northern Ireland 1-0.

Also, Jozy Altidore made his first start for the U.S. national team and scored a go-ahead goal late in the first half, but Jonny Magallon's second goal of the game gave Mexico a 2-2 tie in an exhibition game in Houston.

Oguchi Onyewu also scored for the Americans, who twice blew leads but extended their home unbeaten streak against Mexico to 10 (8-0-2) while outscoring their southern neighbors 17-3.

Onyewu scored his third international goal in the 30th minute, but Magallon's first goal for Mexico tied it five minutes later. Altidore, playing just his third match with the national team, scored in the 40th only to have Magallon retie it in the 47th.

Also, Gonzalo Higuain scored two goals to lead Argentina to a 5-0 rout of Guatemala in an exhibition game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Ezequiel Lavezzi, Jonatan Maidana and Marco Ruben each added a goal.

In first-round qualifying in North, Central America and Caribbean it was: Antigua and Barbuda 3, Aruba 0; Dominica 1, Barbados 1; El Salvador 12, Anguilla 0; Netherlands Antilles 1, Nicaragua 0; Turks and Caicos 2, St. Lucia 1; and Belize 3, St. Kitts and Nevis 1.