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PHOTOS: Italy on the verge of missing World Cup after Sweden loss

November 11, 2017 15:04 IST

Sweden beat Italy 1-0 to gain the upperhand after their World Cup playoff first leg on a chilly night. In the other friendly matches, a young England side held Germany goalless and Belgium drew 3-3 with Mexico despite Romelu Lukaku's double but France eased to a 2-0 victory against Wales. Images from the matches played on Friday night.

Sweden beat toothless Italy 1-0 in playoff first leg

IMAGE: Sweden's players celebrate after Jakob Johansson scored the winning goal. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

A second-half goal by Sweden substitute Jakob Johansson was enough to beat Italy 1-0 and put his side in the driving seat after their World Cup playoff first leg on a chilly night.


Italy's Andrea Belotti sent an early header just wide but after that the visitors showed little ambition, seemingly hoping for a draw to take back to Milan for Monday's second leg as they battle for a place at next year's tournament in Russia.

Gianluigi Buffon

IMAGE: Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon reacts after losing the match. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

That all changed when Johansson came off the bench to replaced Albin Ekdal in the 57th minute and four minutes later snapped up a flick-on from a throw-in and hammered the ball through a forest of legs where it was deflected into the net.

Matteo Darmian came closest to an equaliser, sending a shot cannoning off a post, but the visiting forward line failed to ignite and Italy are now in danger of missing the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958 in Sweden.

England hold Germany goalless

IMAGE: England's Tammy Abraham heads the ball. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

England held world champions Germany to a 0-0 draw after giving debuts to five players as their inexperienced team came through a first-half lesson to hold their own in a lively Wembley friendly on Friday.

With a host of established players missing, England’s callow defence was routinely sliced open in the first period and they needed debutant goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to keep the Germans at bay.

But England also had some bright moments, with midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek making an assured debut and having great chances at the start and end of the match.

England manager Gareth Southgate, shorn of more than half his likely first-choice side, was pleased with much that he saw, despite the result leaving England still searching for their first home win over their old rivals since 1975.

"In the first half we needed a couple of really good saves from Jordan Pickford - we caused our own problems with a couple of those. But we posed our own questions and I thought we used the ball well," Southgate told ITV.

"Ruben Loftus-Cheek did everything I know he can do. It took him 10 minutes to realise he is OK at this level. He is capable of anything. He has the physical attributes and can handle the ball. He will gain huge confidence from it. There will be harder tests as the likes of Germany will have another gear to go to."

Germany were also in somewhat experimental mode and their coach Joachim Loew will have been delighted in particular with an impressive display by Leroy Sane as his team stretched their unbeaten run to 20 games since losing to France in the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

England's young starting team boasted 101 caps between them and one of the debutants, Tammy Abraham, was a centimetre away from scoring with his first touch in international football after 90 seconds.

Germany too were without some heavyweight players and gave a debut to defender Marcel Halstenberg and had goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen making his second appearance.

They soon took control as Sane clipped a 20-metre curler against the bar after 20 minutes, Pickford saved well from Timo Werner and Phil Jones headed Sane’s follow-up off the line.

Jones, the team’s most experienced player, then limped off and another debutant, Liverpool’s 20-year-old Joe Gomez, took his place to trim England’s cap count to less than Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil’s personal tally of 86.

The lack of experience and familiarity was exposed again soon afterwards when Pickford went full length to again deny Werner as Sane was seemingly given the freedom of Wembley.

Ter Stegen made an excellent reflex save to get low and palm clear striker Jamie Vardy's header early in the second half but the steam then gradually left the game.

Midfielder Jack Cork came on as a late substitute to make it five England debuts on the night and another replacement, Jesse Lingard, should really have won it with the last kick of the match but his close-range shot flew over the bar.

England captain Eric Dier said: "I think we did well. Obviously against a well-oiled machine they will have periods in the game where they control possession but I didn't think they hurt us. And we had our periods, broke well at times and are actually disappointed we haven't scored."

England will face a similarly stiff test when they host Brazil on Tuesday while Germany take on France as the teams start preparing for the World Cup finals in Russia next year.

Griezmann, Giroud on target as France beat Wales

IMAGE: Antoine Griezmann scores the first goal for France against Wales. Photograph: Action Images via Matthew Childs/Reuters

Goals by Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud earned France a comprehensive 2-0 home win against Wales in a friendly game at the Stade de France on Friday.

The duo found the back of the net either side of the interval as Les Bleus, who will take part in next year's World Cup finals, snatched a routine win.

Griezmann volleyed home just inside the box from Corentin Tolisso's superb cross in the 18th minute to put Didier Deschamps's team ahead.

It was the 10th time in his last 12 games for the national side that the Atletico Madrid forward was involved in a goal.

Wales, who missed out on a place at next year's tournament in Russia, were just content to defend.

In the second half, Kylian Mbappe's cross was met by Giroud, who beat Wayne Hennessey with a left-footed shot in the 71st minute to seal the win.

Lukaku scores twice in 3-3 draw with Mexico

Romelu Lukaku

IMAGE: Romelu Lukaku scores the third goal for Belgium. Photograph: Eric Vidal/Reuters

Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku scored twice but was upstaged by Mexico's Hirving Lozano in an entertaining 3-3 draw in a friendly international in Brussels.

Belgium are now undefeated in 14 games but needed a Lukaku equaliser in the 70th minute to secure a draw having twice led.

PSV Eindhoven striker Lozano scored twice for Mexico and had a hand in earning the penalty which Andres Guardado converted before the break to cancel out Eden Hazard's 17th minute opener.

Lukaku, enduring a dry run with Manchester United in the Premier League after an explosive start to his Old Trafford career, scrambled Belgium ahead early in the second half but Lozano equalised before volleying Mexico ahead on the hour.

Mexico could not hold on for the win but were impressive as they put down a marker for next year's World Cup finals.

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