>It was a busy week of international football, as friendlies took place all over the globe as teams gradually build towards the upcoming Copa America, European Championships and Asian Cup.
England 1 France 2 in London
A youthful England were beaten 2-1 by a newlook Les Bleus at Wembley after goals from Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena, before Peter Crouch pulled one back in the second half. England boss Fabio Capello’s experimental side failed to impress the locals after France continued their fine run under new boss Laurent Blanc.
Capello said: “Every time I read the newspapers, they say ‘pick the young players, pick the young players’. Well today I did and now you want to talk about the result.”
Argentina 1 Brazil 0 in Doha
Lionel Messi’s superb 90th minute goal proved the difference as Argentina beat Brazil for the first time in five years, wrecking new Selecao boss Mano Menezes’ bright start in charge. For Brazil, who had their chances, Ronaldinho returned after a 19-month stint out of the team and did well.
Argentina coach Sergio Batista said: “This result leaves me for now working contentedly towards our objective, which is the 2014 World Cup. It makes me very happy to see the will to beat Brazil and any other team. This game however was wanted by everyone. Messi showed it on the field with his attitude, that is why he celebrated as he did.”
Portugal 4 Spain 0 in Lisbon
The Portuguese inflicted some revenge on their Iberian neighbours who knocked them out of the 2010 World Cup, with a stirring 4-0 thrashing in Lisbon. Spain boss Vicente del Bosque fielded 10 of his World Cup finalist winners, but Portugal were too good with Cristiano Ronaldo lively.
Del Bosque said: “We have to accept the defeat. We couldn’t have played any worse. They were very effective on the counterattack and did us a lot of damage. Nobody likes to lose. It was an important match for us but it wasn’t our day.”
Romania 1 Italy 1 in Klagenfurt
Ciprian Marica’s late own goal rescued a draw for 2006 world champions Italy in Austria against Romania. Marica had earlier put the Romanians ahead but Cesare Prandelli’s experimental Italy side, including Mario Balotelli>, got an equaliser when the Romanian striker deflected in from a corner.
Referring to his youthful and inexperienced side, Prandelli said: “That inexperience showed tonight. But the team played better in the second half and in terms of personality, I am happy. The team showed character and we didn’t want to lose.”
Sweden 0 Germany 0 in Gothenburg
It ended goalless in Sweden as Die Mannschaft failed to provide much spark in a dull contest. There was no Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the Swedes, while Mesut Ozil was missing for Germany and their absence was noticed in a game which lacked quality.
Germany trainer Joachim Loew said: “It quickly became clear to me that my team would be puzzled going forward. The Swedes played with ten men behind the ball. But I think we have made a good showing, especially when you consider how many new entries there were. I am completely satisfied.”
Netherlands 1 Turkey 0 in Amsterdam
The 2010 World Cup runners-up maintained their fine recent form with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s strike proving the difference against Guus Hiddink’s Turkey. The Turkish, though, provided a tough test for Oranje.
Dutch boss Bert van Marwijk said: “It was a real match against opponents with several new players who wanted to prove themselves and their enthusiasm gave us several problems.”
Ireland 1 Norway 2 in Dublin
Norway ruined Irish goalkeeper Shay Given’s celebrations at becoming the most capped national team player with Erik Huseklepp’s 86th minute goal clinching the win for the visitors. Ireland had their chances but failed to take them and Norway made them pay.
Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni said: “I am a little bit disappointed with the result, but I also have to say there were important positives. I would have been satisfied with a draw, but every time Norway had the ball, they were very, very fast on the counter-attack.”
Poland 3 Ivory Coast 1 in Poznan
The 2012 European Championships co-hosts ended their eight-game winless streak in a positive sign ahead of the tournament just over 18 months away. Young Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski was the star for Poland with two goals. It must be noted, though, Ivory Coast were without star men Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou.
Switzerland 2 Ukraine 2 in Geneva
The other 2012 European Championship co-host, Ukraine, claimed a 2-2 draw in Switzerland, with former Italy World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi> watching from the stands. His presence has fuelled speculation he will take over in charge of Ukraine for the upcoming continental tournament.