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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup warm-up: Germany survive scare; Chile rally to hold Poland

World Cup warm-up: Germany survive scare; Chile rally to hold Poland

June 09, 2018 11:34 IST

IMAGE: Germany's players applaud the fans after the match. Photograph: Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters

>World champions Germany survived a late scare to see off Saudi Arabia 2-1 on Friday and claim a first victory this year, putting a five-game winless run behind them as they finalised their World Cup preparations.

There were also wins for Iran, Croatia and Switzerland, while Poland were held to a 2-2 draw by Chile.

 

Germany looked to be heading for a comfortable win as they sought to put their worst run of form for 30 years behind them as Timo Werner opened the scoring and Omar Hawsawi’s own goal doubled their lead on the stroke of halftime.

Yet Saudi Arabia, who will also be in Russia, fought back, looking particularly dangerous on the counter.

They grabbed a lifeline as Taisir Al-Jassim smashed in the rebound after a Mohammad Al-Sahlawi penalty was saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen five minutes from fulltime.

Al-Sahlawi then had strong claims for a second spot kick waved away in stoppage time as he went down under a challenge from Mats Hummels as Germany hung on to claim a morale-boosting victory.

IMAGE: Germany's Toni Kroos, left, in a tussle for the ball with Saudi Arabia's Yahya Al-Shehri. Photograph: Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters

There was frustration for Germany coach Joachim Low, as Ilkay Gundogan’s every touch was booed for the second game in a row. German fans are angry over a picture he took with Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan last month, addressing him in a message as "my president".

“He’s a member of the national team and that (booing) does not help anyone,” said an irritated Low.

The coach went on to voice his discontent at his side’s performance, but was adamant they will ready when they face Mexico in their opening World Cup game next Sunday.

“Today we missed a lot of chances, were really open in defence and allowed too many counter attacks from Saudi Arabia. In the end we were lucky to win," he said.

“I'm not worried because I know we’re going to keep on improving. When it gets going, we’ll be ready. Next week we’ll be sharper, more dynamic and have even more power.”

Poland pegged back to draw 2-2 with Chile

IMAGE: Piotr Zielinski scores their second goal for Poland. Photograph: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Precise strikes from captain Robert Lewandowski and midfielder Piotr Zielinski were not enough to give World Cup-bound Poland victory over Chile, who fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in a friendly in Poznan on Friday.

Poland took the lead when Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski found the net in the 30th minute following a precise pass from Paris St Germain's Grzegorz Krychowiak.

The hosts appeared to have sealed victory four minutes later when Napoli's Zielinski beat Chile keeper Gabriel Arias following a pass from Kamil Grosicki.

IMAGE: Chile's players celebrate after Miiko Albornoz scored the second goal. Photograph: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Yet Chile, who failed to qualify for the World Cup and were playing without their biggest names on Friday, got back in the game in the 39th minute when Diego Valdes headed home following a Polish defensive error.

Poland coach Adam Nawalka made a string of substitutions at halftime and they came out after the break in a more aggressive fashion with two strikers on the pitch as Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik joined Lewandowski.

Chile, however, levelled in the 56th minute through Miiko Albornoz.

Poland begin their World Cup Group H campaign in Moscow against Senegal on June 19.

Croatia fight back to beat Senegal

IMAGE: Croatia's Luka Modric tries to weave his way past Senegal's players. Photograph: Antonio Bronic/Reuters

Croatia Forward Andrej Kramaric staked a strong claim to break into their starting lineup for their opening World Cup match against Nigeria after scoring the winner in a comeback 2-1 home win over Senegal in a pulsating friendly on Friday.

Kramaric produced a superb all-round performance after coming on as a halftime substitute, injecting life into a toothless Croatian side, which fell behind to an Ismaila Sarr goal in the 48th minute.

Winger Ivan Perisic equalised with a heavily deflected free kick before Kramaric showed a killer instinct in the penalty area, drilling in a rebound after a Senegalese defender blocked his first shot.

The Croatians open their Group D campaign against Nigeria on June 16 before taking on Argentina and Iceland, while Senegal play Poland on June 19 in Group H followed by games against Japan and Colombia.

Croatia dominated possession in the first half but their ineffective 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mario Mandzukic as the lone striker, created no clear cut chances while Senegal always looked dangerous on the break.

The visitors silenced a packed and passionate home crowd in Osijek as Sarr latched on to a delightful long ball by Alfred N'Diaye from the halfway line and steered it past goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

Lively Kramaric, whose running enabled Croatia to move up a gear, shaved the crossbar before Perisic levelled from 30 metres as the ball struck a defender in the Senegalese wall and left goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo wrong-footed.

The fired-up Croatians kept the visitors on the back foot and Kramaric deservedly grabbed the winner when he drove a left-footed rebound into the bottom corner after a delightful through ball by captain Luka Modric.

Sadio Mane, who gave Croatia's defenders a torrid time all evening with his pace and trickery, missed Senegal's last chance to salvage a draw as he rattled the woodwork with a free kick.

Seferovic scores morale-boosting goal in Swiss win

IMAGE: Switzerland registered a comfortable 2-0 win over fellow World Cup qualifiers Japan. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Switzerland striker Haris Seferovic gave his morale a much-needed boost when he scored the second goal in a 2-0 warmup win over fellow World Cup qualifiers Japan on Friday.

Seferovic, battling for the role of Switzerland's lone striker at the World Cup, came on in the second half and finished off a well-worked move in the 82nd minute for his first Switzerland goal since September.

He exchanged passes with Xherdan Shaqiri, who then crossed to the far post for Francois Moubandje to head across goal where Seferovic turned the ball past Eiji Kawashima from close range.

The 26-year-old has had a miserable season for Benfica where he scored only four league goals and was left out of the squad altogether for a number of games.

He was also booed off by Switzerland fans after missing several chances in the second leg of their qualifying playoff tie against Northern Ireland in November which the Swiss won 1-0 on aggregate to qualify for Russia.

Switzerland, who face Brazil, Costa Rica and Serbia in their World Cup group, went ahead with a bizarre penalty four minutes before halftime.

Breel Embolo burst into the penalty area, then clearly trod on the foot of a Japanese player but went tumbling over and the referee pointed to the spot.

Japan, who face Poland, Senegal and Colombia in their World Cup group, slumped to their third successive defeat after also losing to Ukraine and Ghana. They face Paraguay in a final warm-up on Tuesday.

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