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Rediff.com  » Sports » Football friendlies: Rooney says farewell; Croatia stun Spain

Football friendlies: Rooney says farewell; Croatia stun Spain

November 16, 2018 09:39 IST

England beat United States

Wayne Rooney

IMAGE: England's Wayne Rooney with manager Gareth Southgate at the end of the match. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

There was no farewell goal but plenty of pride and appreciation as Wayne Rooney made his 120th and final appearance for England in a 3-0 win over the United States in a friendly at Wembley on Thursday.

England's all-time top scorer Rooney came on as a 58th-minute substitute, to roars from the crowd, with the team 2-0 up thanks to excellent first-half strikes from Jesse Lingard and Trent Alexander-Arnold with his first goal for his country.

 

The game, played in front of a well-below capacity crowd of 68,155, had been billed as a tribute match to Rooney and he was given a guard of honour by both sets of players and received a presentation from the Football Association before kick-off.

Rooney retired from England duty in August, 2017 but the FA decided to turn the friendly into a tribute game for the Liverpool-born player.

The 33-year-old former Manchester United and Everton forward, who now plays in the U.S. for Major League Soccer team D.C. United, did not have a major impact on the game but forced goalkeeper Brad Guzan into a save in stoppage time.

A 54th goal for England would have been the perfect way to bow out but it was typical of Rooney's modest approach to the match that he never tried to create chances for himself, instead showcasing, for a final time at Wembley, his passing ability.

Jedvaj double gives Croatia dramatic 3-2 win over Spain

Croatia kept alive their hopes of reaching the Nations League finals after a stoppage-time winner by left back Tin Jedvaj gave them a 3-2 win over Spain in an electrifying Group 4 clash on Thursday.

Spain stayed top of the group with six points from four games but their fate is no longer in their own hands as England and Croatia, who have four each from three matches, clash at Wembley on Sunday.

The winners would finish top and reach the 2019 final four while only a draw would see the Spaniards retain top spot.

Victory avenged Croatia's 6-0 drubbing by Spain in the reverse fixture and their coach Zlatko Dalic feels confident his World Cup runners-up can win the group.

Jedvaj emerged as Croatia's hero with his first two international goals, sending the home crowd into raptures with his second after Spain had twice come from behind.

Striker Andrej Kramaric fired the hosts ahead in the 56th minute, only for Dani Ceballos to equalise with his first goal for Spain barely two minutes later.

Jedvaj restored Croatia's advantage with a close-range header before Sergio Ramos converted a penalty to bring Spain level again 12 minutes from time.

Croatia started fast and missed two good chances while Isco went close for Spain with a fierce shot.

Spain fell behind after a calamitous error by Sergi Roberto, who gave the ball away to Ivan Perisic and the winger released Kramaric to beat David de Gea with a crisp finish from eight metres.

Croatia's joy was short-lived as Ceballos swept the ball home from six metres after good work by Isco and Iago Aspas.

Jedvaj, playing in an unfamiliar position as he is normally deployed on the opposite flank, made it 2-1 with a far-post header after an inch-perfect cross by Luka Modric.

Spain equalised after Sime Vrsaljko twice handled the ball and Ramos sent goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic the wrong way from the spot.

Croatia forced the final twist when De Gea could only parry substitute Josip Brekalo's low shot and Jedvaj popped up again to hammer in the rebound.

Batshuayi double gives Belgium 2-0 win over Iceland

Stand-in striker Michy Batshuayi scored twice as Belgium laboured to a 2-0 victory over Iceland on Thursday to propel them to the top of their UEFA Nations League pool.

The hosts, number one in FIFA's world rankings, were missing several players due to injury, with striker Romelu Lukaku ruled out a day before the match to bring Batshuayi into the starting line-up.

Belgium had the vast majority of possession, but struggled for over an hour to break through a dogged and organised Iceland back line in a game shrouded most of the time by thick mist.

Eden Hazard, who played alongside his brother Thorgan on the left, finally unpicked the visitors' defence in the 65th minute when his perfectly-weighted cross found Thomas Meunier, who only had to stroke the ball across to Batshuayi in front of an open goal.

Iceland, who knew they were relegated before Thursday's match, showed more intent in the second half and might have equalised, but Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois saved Albert Gudmundsson's shot with his legs.

Batshuayi guaranteed the victory in the 81st minute when he pounced for a tap-in after Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson, who normally plays in the Azerbaijan premier league, let slip a shot from substitute Hans Vanaken.

Belgium will travel to Switzerland for their final pool match on Sunday, knowing a draw would ensure they reach the Nations League finals in June.

The match was also notable for a 100th international for Axel Witsel, the second most-capped Belgian behind defender Jan Vertonghen.

Though far from a sell-out, one notable spectator was Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, watching from the stands even though none of his Belgium players were fit. Marouane Fellaini was also injured.

New-look Germany ease past Russia 3-0 in friendly

Germany

IMAGE:  Russia's Georgi Dzhikiya in action with Germany's Leroy Sane.Photograph: Matthias Rietschel/Reuters

A new-look Germany comfortably beat Russia 3-0 in a friendly on Thursday with all the goals coming in the first half as they seek to end their annus horribilis on a positive note.

Leroy Sane, Niklas Suele and Serge Gnabry secured the victory for a side with just two 2014 World Cup winners in the starting lineup -- goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Matthias Ginter.

Germany were soon off the mark with Gnabry sending the speedy Sane through and the Manchester City winger grabbed his first international goal in the eighth minute.

Bayern Munich defender Suele also got his first Germany goal as he was left unmarked to slot home from a corner in the 25th.

The Russians, World Cup hosts this year, were missing several players through injury and rarely ventured forward.

Gnabry turned scorer in the 40th, firing in from a superb Kai Havertz through ball, to cap a strong opening by the hosts.

In a subdued second half the play was constantly interrupted by a dozen substitutions in total.

Loew fielded a young starting 11, which included only two players over 25, and left the experienced Mats Hummels and Thomas Mueller on the bench. Fellow World Cup winner Jerome Boateng was not called up and Toni Kroos was given a break.

The 19-year-old Havertz along with Sane and Timo Werner, both 22, were a constant headache for the Russia defence, with 23-year-old Gnabry also confirming his fine form this season.

The Germans, who play their last Nations League group match against the Netherlands on Monday, had a terrible year, crashing out of the World Cup in their earliest exit in 80 years.

They have managed one point in three Nations League matches and face relegation from Group 1 in League A, while they also suffered a total of six defeats in a year for the first time.

They will be relegated if they do not beat the Dutch but could be down on Friday if the Netherlands beat France.

Source:
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