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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » PHOTOS: Spain hold Germany; Brazil and Portugal win but France lose

PHOTOS: Spain hold Germany; Brazil and Portugal win but France lose

March 24, 2018 12:06 IST


Images from the football friendlies on Friday night.

Germany draw 1-1 with Spain

Thomas Mueller

IMAGE: Germany's Thomas Mueller, left, celebrates with Jerome Boateng after scoring their first goal against Spain. Photograph: Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters

World champions Germany drew 1-1 with Spain in a high tempo friendly on Friday as they launched their preparations for a title defence in Russia while their opponents had striker Diego Costa making his long-awaited comeback as a substitute.

Germany's Thomas Mueller scored with a long-range strike in the 35th minute to cancel out Rodrigo Moreno's early opener.

The hosts were made to work hard against the Spaniards, who are unbeaten under coach Julen Lopetegui, but still managed to stretch their own unbeaten run to 22 matches, one shy of the German record of 23 dating back to 1978-80.

They can now match it when they take on five-times world champions Brazil on Tuesday when Spain, the 2010 World Cup winners, host Argentina in Madrid.

"I think it was a very good test for both teams because both teams combine well when they have possession," said Germany coach Joachim Loew.

"Spain and us tried to increase the pressure, attack early, press early. It was a high intensity game and a good test to gain a lot of insight. We still have some room for improvement."

IMAGE: Spain's Rodrigo scores their first goal past Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Photograph: Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters

The visitors, with captain Sergio Ramos earning his 150th cap, went ahead when Rodrigo timed his run perfectly to pick up a superb through ball from Andres Iniesta and beat keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the sixth minute.

The Germans, who at times struggled with their opponents' quick passing, managed to draw level with an unstoppable 20-metre strike from Mueller 10 minutes before the break.

Keepers David de Gea and Ter Stegen were kept busy after the break and Mats Hummels hit the crossbar with a looping header from a clever Toni Kroos free kick as both sides carved out good chances.

"We have a good feeling after this game against the best team in the world," said Lopetegui, whose own unbeaten run with Spain is now 17 games.

"We had chances to win the game. Germany are extremely fast and strong. We were fully motivated against the world champions."

Spain's Costa made his comeback as a substitute in the second half after the combative forward missed out on playing late last year when he was unable to feature for his club because of a FIFA transfer ban for signing minors.

Atletico completed a 57 million pound ($80.6 million) deal for Costa to rejoin them from Chelsea in September, but the move was delayed because the Liga club could not register new players due to the ban, which ended on Jan. 1.

His return is good news for Lopetegui's team, one of the title contenders at the World Cup in Russia starting in June.

The Germans have been drawn in Group F of the tournament, along with Mexico, South Korea and Sweden.

Spain are in Group B and will play Iran, Morocco and Portugal.

Ronaldo double lifts Portugal to victory

Cristiano Ronaldo

IMAGE: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring a goal for Portugal. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo scored two stoppage time goals to steal a 2-1 win over Egypt after Mohamed Salah had given the African side the lead in an entertaining World Cup warm-up in Switzerland on Friday.

Salah scored with a thumping drive to put Egypt ahead early in the second half. However, Ronaldo refused to be upstaged and he sneaked in behind his marker to head in Ricardo Quaresma's cross from the left in the 92nd minute.

Not content with that, Ronaldo scored again with another header, once more from a Quaresma pass, this time from the right, with the final move of the game.

There was initial confusion as they referee consulted the video assistant referee (VAR) system for a possible offside before allowing the goal.

The European champions had enjoyed the better of a match played in a lively atmosphere but their African opponents showed enough to worry World Cup group rivals Russia, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia.

Ronaldo fired two free kicks into the Egyptian wall in the first half, the first from inside the penalty area after the Egyptian defence naively passed the ball back to goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy.

Portugal defender Rolando, returning to the side after a four-year absence, had the ball in the net from a close-range header in the 41st minute, only to see the goal disallowed for offside.

Egypt broke the deadlock in the 56th minute after a flowing attack ended with Abdallah El Said playing the ball back to Salah who swept it in from the edge of the area with an effortless first time shot.

Cristiano Ronaldo

IMAGE: Cristiano Ronaldo, left, scores Portugal's second goal. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

It seemed as though it was not to be Ronaldo's night when his powerful drive was saved by El Shenawy. However, Portugal's record scorer and most capped international was not to be denied as he struck twice in three dramatic minutes.

His two goals in three minutes took his tally to 81 in 148 internationals.

"We were better overall," said Portugal coach Fernando Santos. "We were not so good collectively in the second half but our individual creativity helped us win the game."

Egypt coach Hector Cuper was disappointed with the result but happy with the performance.

"As far as measuring ourselves against a top team like Portugal, I'm happy with what we did, and this was a good game for us in that sense" he said. "It's just a shame they scored in the 92nd and 94th minutes."

Brazil sink Russia 3-0 with second-half breakthrough

Philippe Coutinho

IMAGE: Brazil's Philippe Coutinho scores their second goal from the penalty spot. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

A string of second-half goals helped a Brazil side deprived of talisman Neymar to an emphatic 3-0 friendly win over World Cup hosts Russia at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium on Friday.

After several missed chances in the first half, Brazil's Miranda finally broke the deadlock by tapping in a rebounded shot past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev in the 53rd minute.

Philippe Coutinho doubled Brazil's lead with a penalty kick less than 10 minutes later. The playmaker's Barcelona team mate Paulinho quickly added another in the 66th minute, expertly heading a flawless cross by Willian into the back of the net.

Russia's best chance came just after the half hour mark with a drive from 20 yards by Spartak Moscow midfielder Aleksandr Samedov which was tipped over the bar by Brazil goalkeeper Alisson.

Akinfeev kept the Russian side afloat in the first half, making several key saves against a dominant Brazilian team.

The CSKA Moscow goalkeeper, known for his errors in major international matches, will have to play solidly if Russia hope to hold their own at the World Cup finals.

As the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, the hosts are hoping to make the knockout stage for the first time in post-Soviet history.

Russia have lost striker Alexander Kokorin and defenders Georgi Dzhikiya and Viktor Vasin to serious knee injuries since the start of the year, leaving manager Stanislav Cherchesov with gaps to fill in his line-up.

"It's clear that these are important players for us, but I think we need to wait and see how their recover," Cherchesov told a news conference. "We do not want and cannot cry over them. That is not in our plans and in our character because we have other players and that would insult them."

Philippe Coutinho

IMAGE: Brazil's Philippe Coutinho celebrates after scoring a goal. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

Brazil dominated possession from the start and manager Tite said his players' convincing performance, extending the side's unbeaten streak to eight matches, showed they are ready for the World Cup.

"Honestly I am very happy about our performance because we managed to do everything that was important to the game," Tite said. "We managed to score goals from different positions... the team understood what I want to see from them."

Russia take on France next week, while Brazil face Germany for the first time since their humiliating 7-1 loss to the Europeans on home soil in the 2014 World Cup semi-final.

The World Cup takes place from June 14 to July 15 in 12 venues spread across 11 Russian cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi.

Impressive England break Dutch drought with 1-0 win

IMAGE: Jesse Lingard, centre, celebrates scoring a goal with his England team mates. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters

England ended a 22-year win drought against the Netherlands thanks to Jesse Lingard's strike for a 1-0 triumph after a performance of composure and quality in a friendly on Friday.

Gareth Southgate's World Cup-bound England side were superior for much of the match, organised and in control even before Manchester United midfielder Lingard's 59th minute goal secured their first win over the Dutch since Euro '96.

The Netherlands, still smarting from missing out on this year's finals in Russia after a second straight failure to qualify for a major championship, were left with little to cheer at the start of reconstruction under new manager Ronald Koeman.

The home side got lucky soon after halftime when a clear foul on Marcus Rashford in the penalty area was waved away.

But the visitors were soon rewarded for their control and some neat passing movements when a loose ball fell to Lingard, who swept it home with a clinical right-foot finish from just outside the box for his first senior international goal.

The result and, more importantly, the assured performances from some of Southgate's supposed fringe players gave encouragement to the England boss, who was in the team that last beat the Netherlands 4-1 at Wembley in 1996.

"It was a good test for us, we came away from home and controlled the game," he told ITV Sport. "We used the ball really well for 60, 65 minutes. Maybe more quality in the final third was required but we were very solid."

He was also happy with the way his three-man defensive unit worked, even after he had lost Joe Gomez to injury in the opening 10 minutes and had to bring on Harry Maguire to join John Stones and Kyle Walker.

"The back three were excellent and the goalkeeper (Jordan Pickford) too, the way they were able to play from the back," said Southgate. "They played with real composure, and played with intelligence too."

He was delighted for his matchwinner Lingard too. "He's a player we've worked with for three or four years from the Under 21s and this year he is starting to finish the chances," the manager said.

England captain Jordan Henderson enthused: "The three at the back, we look solid with that shape and it gives licence for us to pick up positions in midfield."

England, who had not won in Amsterdam since 1969, now have one more friendly against Italy on Tuesday before Southgate finalises his squad for Russia.

France lose composure in 3-2 defeat to Colombia

IMAGE: France's Olivier Giroud, right, clashes with Yerry Mina of Colombia. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

France threw away a two-goal lead as they slumped to a 3-2 home defeat to Colombia in a friendly at the Stade de France on Friday, less than three months before the World Cup.

Les Bleus were 2-0 up midway through the first half thanks to goals by Olivier Giroud and Thomas Lemar, but Luis Muriel halved the deficit before the break with Radamel Falcao and Juan Quintero scoring in the second half.

Before kickoff, there was a minute's silence in memory of the three people who were killed in southwestern France by a gunman who held up a car, fired on police and seized hostages in a supermarket earlier on Friday.

France started with N'Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi as holding midfielders, Paul Pogba being left on the bench because of a muscle problem and a lack of playing time at Manchester United, according to assistant coach Guy Stephan.

Pogba, however, came on as a second half substitute but had little impact.

Les Bleus enjoyed most of the possession and they were rewarded in the 11th minute when Giroud scored his 30th international goal as he knocked the ball in after David Ospina mishandled Lucas Digne's cross from the left.

It was Giroud's ninth goal in the last nine games he started for France.

Radamel Falcao

IMAGE: Radamel Falcao celebrates scoring the second goal for Colombia. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Lemar made it 2-0 in the 26th from inside the box after being set up by his former Monaco team mate Kylian Mbappe, who had collected a fine back heel by Antoine Griezmann.

But France lacked focus and two minutes later, Hugo Lloris misjudged Muriel's cross, which found the back of the net at the far post.

The visitors were more active in the second half and Falcao beat Lloris in the 62nd minute as he latched onto a cross from James Rodriguez.

Colombia sealed the win five minutes from time when Quintero converted a penalty after a Samuel Umtiti foul in the box.

France next face World Cup hosts Russia in St Petersburg on Tuesday, while Colombia take on Australia.

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