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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup warm-ups: England show promise, Germany lose

World Cup warm-ups: England show promise, Germany lose

Last updated on: June 03, 2018 12:12 IST

ngland's Harry Kane and team mates applaud fans after the match

IMAGE: Harry Kane and his England teammates applaud fans after the match against Nigeria at Wembley stadium, London. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

England beat Nigeria 2-1 in a friendly on Saturday that provided some clues as to how coach Gareth Southgate will line up his still experimental side when the World Cup gets underway in two weeks' time.

First-half goals from Gary Cahill and captain Harry Kane helped England to victory at Wembley Stadium in their penultimate warm-up match before taking on Tunisia, Panama and Belgium in Group G in Russia.

 

But the game represented little as a true test for England who benefited from a string of first-half errors by Nigeria.

The Africans, who also head to Russia later this month, pulled a goal back shortly after the break through Alex Iwobi but only fleetingly threatened the hosts for much of the game.

Southgate has yet to settle on his preferred starting team and fielded Jesse Lingard alongside fellow attacking midfielder Dele Alli on Saturday, providing England with pace and creativity that led to a string of first-half chances.

Nigeria's Tyronne Ebuehi and Alex Iwobi

IMAGE: Nigeria's Tyronne Ebuehi and Alex Iwobi applaud the fans after the match. Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters

Wing backs Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young added to England's attacking power. With Jordan Henderson rested after his appearance for Liverpool in the Champions League final a week earlier, Eric Dier looked confident as the holding player in midfield.

Southgate will take comfort from the performance of Cahill whose powerful headed goal from a corner after seven minutes will strengthen his claim for a place in the heart of defence.

The Three Lions took control of the game in the 39th minute when Kane drilled a shot from the edge of the penalty area and Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho allowed it to squeeze past him.

The Super Eagles will need to improve when they take on Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in Group D in Russia.

England are due to finish their preparations for the World Cup with a friendly against Costa Rica in Leeds on June 7. Nigeria play the Czech Republic in a friendly on June 6.

Neuer returns but unable to prevent Germany loss to Austria

Manuel Neuer

IMAGE: Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer reacts after Martin Hinteregger scores Austria's first goal in the international friendly at the Worthersee Stadion, in Klagenfurt, Austria. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made his comeback from a nine-month injury break on Saturday but was unable to prevent the World champions suffering a surprise 2-1 friendly defeat to Austria.

Neuer, who had not played a single official game since breaking a bone in his foot back in September, was handed the captaincy and looked fresh and confident but was powerless to stop Austria’s two second-half goals.

It was Germany’s fifth match without a win and their first defeat to Austria for 32 years.

Forward Nils Petersen was given his Germany debut at the age of 29 but was largely anonymous.

“It was a good comeback for him (Neuer),” said Germany coach Joachim Loew. “He made two or three good saves and I’m absolutely satisfied with his performance. He had no problem with his injury.”

Loew was less happy, however, with his team’s performance in a match which began one and three quarter hours later after torrential rain twice forced the kickoff to be put back.

“Of course, the defeat angers me,” he said. “We lost too many balls which normally doesn’t happen with us, we missed chances after the goal, a lot of things were bad today.

“I learned some important things from the game. We have a lot to improve over the next 14 days.”

The 32-year-old was powerless, however, when David Alaba’s corner found Martin Hinteregger at the far post and he hammered a low volley past Neuer in the 53rd minute.

Neuer made another important stop, this time from Marko Arnautovic, but was beaten again from close range Alessandro Schoepf in the 69th minute after Stefan Lainer was allowed too much space to lay the ball off for him at the far post.

Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said on Friday that Neuer will be their first choice goalkeeper at the World Cup if he makes the final squad, which will be announced on Monday when four players will be cut from the current 27.

Neuer missed almost the entire season after breaking a bone in his foot and undergoing surgery and his comeback for Bayern Munich was repeatedly delayed.

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made his comeback from a nine-month injury break on Saturday but was unable to prevent the world champions suffering a surprise 2-1 friendly defeat to Austria.

Neuer, who had not played a single official game since breaking a bone in his foot back in September, was handed the captaincy and looked fresh and confident but was powerless to stop Austria’s two second-half goals.

It was Germany’s fifth match without a win and their first defeat to Austria for 32 years.

Forward Nils Petersen was given his Germany debut at the age of 29 but was largely anonymous.

"It was a good comeback for him (Neuer),” said Germany coach Joachim Loew. “He made two or three good saves and I’m absolutely satisfied with his performance. He had no problem with his injury."

Loew was less happy, however, with his team’s performance in a match which began one and three quarter hours later after torrential rain twice forced the kickoff to be put back.

"Of course, the defeat angers me,” he said. “We lost too many balls which normally doesn’t happen with us, we missed chances after the goal, a lot of things were bad today."

"I learned some important things from the game. We have a lot to improve over the next 14 days."

The 32-year-old was powerless, however, when David Alaba’s corner found Martin Hinteregger at the far post and he hammered a low volley past Neuer in the 53rd minute.

Neuer made another important stop, this time from Marko Arnautovic, but was beaten again from close range Alessandro Schoepf in the 69th minute after Stefan Lainer was allowed too much space to lay the ball off for him at the far post.

Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said on Friday that Neuer will be their first choice goalkeeper at the World Cup if he makes the final squad, which will be announced on Monday when four players will be cut from the current 27.

Neuer missed almost the entire season after breaking a bone in his foot and undergoing surgery and his comeback for Bayern Munich was repeatedly delayed.

Belgium suffer Kompany blow in draw with Portugal

Portugal's Andre Silva and Belgium's Dedryck Boyata battle for possession

IMAGE: Portugal's Andre Silva, left, and Belgium's Dedryck Boyata battle for possession in the international friendly at the King Baudouin Stadium, in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Eric Vidal/Reuters.

Defender Vincent Kompany will require a scan to determine if he can play in the World Cup in Russia after injuring his groin during Belgium’s goalless draw with Portugal in a friendly on Saturday.

The 32-year-old Kompany, a key part of Belgium’s defence, abruptly left the pitch in the 55th minute of the match after appearing to hurt himself when lunging for the ball.

“You could feel that when he came off we were all very much worried,” coach Roberto Martinez told a news conference, adding that it would probably take 48 hours to determine how serious the injury was.

“He said he felt discomfort in his groin when he walked off the pitch. He’s not a young player, he knows his body. At that point it was the right time to come off,” Martinez added.

The injury was the key talking point after Belgium’s 0-0 draw with Portugal as both sides showed attacking intent but no killer blow less than two weeks before the World Cup begins.

Both Belgium and the European champions had promising phases, with Portugal’s Bernardo Silva in particular creating chances at the end of the first half.

Belgium’s best chance fell to defender Jan Vertonghen, earning his 100th cap, as he forced goalkeeper Beto into an acrobatic save midway through the second period.

Belgium began with their strongest possible 11, apart from the injured Axel Witsel and Thomas Vermaelen, and a trial three-man defence.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos made six changes from the team that started Monday’s 2-2 draw with Tunisia and were again without Cristiano Ronaldo, still resting after last weekend’s Champions League final.

Striker Andre Silva started on the bench, giving 21-year-old Goncalo Guedes the chance to shine in attack.

Santos expressed satisfaction after the match, saying his team had done well to keep a clean sheet against a team that set a joint record of goals in qualifying for the World Cup.

The hosts made five second-half changes to try out some of their fringe players before Martinez cuts his 28-man squad to 23 on Monday.

“I cannot be fully satisfied because of Vincent Kompany’s injury but apart from that it was the test we needed,” he said, adding that Vermaelen at least appeared to be returning to fitness.

Portugal host Algeria on June 7 before their World Cup opener on June 15 against Spain in a group also featuring Morocco and Iran.

Belgium will play further friendlies against Egypt on June 6 and Costa Rica on June 11. They open their World Cup campaign on June 18 against Panama, before also facing England and Tunisia in Group G.

Mexico ease past Scotland

IMAGE: Mexico's Raul Jimenez attempts an overhead kick. Photograph: Henry Romero

Mexico made light work of Scotland in their penultimate World Cup warm-up on Saturday, scoring a 1-0 victory that gave them their fourth win in seven games against European opposition.

The home side got the only goal of the game after 12 minutes when Scottish defenders backed off and allowed Giovani dos Santos to fire home from just inside the box.

Mexico, who play a final warm-up against Denmark in Copenhagen next Saturday, were far superior to a team that have not qualified for a major tournament since 1998 and who fielded an inexperienced and experimental side.

Mexico had a goal chalked off for offside after 70 minutes and hit the woodwork twice but could not turn their dominance into further goals despite Scotland tiring at high altitude in Mexico City.

In one of their few chances, Oliver McBurnie saw a header come back off the post early in the second half for the Scots.

Mexico have been drawn in Group F for the World Cup in Russia and will kick off their campaign against Germany on June 17 before facing South Korea and Sweden.

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