Soccer-Clemente praises Serbia after sound win in Finland

BELGRADE, June 3 Sun Jun 3, 2007 11:27am BST

BELGRADE, June 3 (Reuters) - Serbia's Spanish coach Javier Clemente praised his team following the 2-0 Group A win in Finland on Saturday that kept them very much in the hunt to reach the Euro 2008 finals.

"We controlled the game very well after scoring the early goal and sealed it in the closing stages. I am really pleased with the performance," Clemente said.

The 57-year old Basque singled out debutants Antonio Rukavina, Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Milan Jovanovic, who wrapped up Serbia's win with a fine finish after coming on midway through the second half.

"Rukavina is so young and he played like he had a wealth of experience, Jovanovic did a great job while Kuzmanovic was also very impressive," he said.

The result left Serbia level with second-placed Portugal on 14 points from seven matches but behind on goal difference while leaders Poland have 19 from eight after coming from behind to win 3-1 at bottom team Azerbaijan.

Finland remain fourth on 11 points from seven matches, four ahead of fifth-placed Belgium, who have a very slim chance after a 2-1 home defeat to Portugal.

Centre back Nemanja Vidic believes the Finns too are effectively out of the picture but acknowledged Serbia still had a lot of work to do finish in the top two.

"We have one team less to worry about and that's Finland. However, we are a still have a long way to go and it's going to be an uphill struggle because we're up against Poland and Portugal," he said.

"If we can repeat this kind of performance consistently we have a fair chance of reaching next year's finals."

Serbia's next match is away to Belgium on Aug 22.