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Jun 2, 2012

Danny Welbeck boosts England

England won for the second straight time under Roy Hodgson on Saturday, while European Championship co-host Poland and the Netherlands enjoyed romps in their tuneups. Lionel Messi also had a nice showing for Argentina in World Cup qualifying.

Danny Welbeck scored his first international goal in the 36th minute to give England a 1-0 victory over Belgium at Wembley that was far from convincing. The English will enter Euro 2012 with a perfect record since Hodgson became coach, having beaten Norway by the same score last weekend.

Poland swept aside lowly Andorra 4-0 in Warsaw after three first-half goals in its last pre-Euro exhibition. Denmark beat Australia 2-0 at home.

Croatia, however, settled for a 1-1 draw at Norway after Tarik Elyounoussi evened the score in injury time for the hosts. Eduardo da Silva gave Croatia the lead in the 79th minute.

The Netherlands routed Northern Ireland 6-0 behind two goals each from Robin van Persie and Ibrahim Afellay. Turkey upset Portugal 3-1 in Lisbon a week before the Portuguese start the Euros against Germany. Portugal is winless in its last three matches and for the second time in a week was jeered by its home fans.

Argentina scored three goals in nine minutes to overpower Ecuador 4-0 and move atop the South American qualifying standings.

Sergio Aguero opening the scoring in the 23rd and Gonzalo Higuain doubled the advantage in the 30th, taking a through pass from Messi. The Barcelona star scored two minutes later.

England's victory may prove costly because both starting central defenders had to leave the game. Gary Cahill was pushed into goalkeeper Joe Hart in the second half and needed an X-ray on his jaw. Chelsea teammate John Terry left in the second half because of a hamstring problem.

"Cahill is slightly more of a concern because it's a jaw injury," Hodgson said. "I am hoping the scan doesn't show a fracture and it will be a bruise. That's wouldn't rule him out of the tournament."

Welbeck converted the team's first good scoring chance and a solid defensive effort prevented the visitors from converting their edge in possession into dangerous opportunities.

In Warsaw, Poland led 3-0 by halftime after Ludovic Obraniak scored in the 13th minute before Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski struck in a two-minute span just before the break. Marcin Wasilewski made it 4-0 in the 77th.

Poland will open Euro 2012 against Greece in Group A, which also includes the Czech Republic and Russia.

In Copenhagen, Daniel Agger made a penalty kick for Denmark in the 31st and Andreas Bjelland scored the second from a corner kick in the 66th. Australia failed to convert several chances.

"They were tired. They have had a tough week because they have been training all week long," Denmark coach Morten Olsen said. "It is important for us that we have a win at this moment."

In World Cup qualifying in South America, Jose Rondon's header in the 84th minute gave surprising Venezuela a 1-1 draw with host Uruguay. Diego Forlan scored in the 39th minute for Uruguay.

Uruguay is unbeaten in 16 matches and rated the best team in South America. Venezuela is the only country from South America yet to play in a World Cup.

In African World Cup qualifiers, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Senegal all won, but newly crowned African champion Zambia lost 2-0 at Sudan. Tunisia opened by beating Equatorial Guinea 3-1.

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