The latest round of international friendlies brought no joy for Spain or Brazil. Fielding a somewhat unfamiliar line-up, the reigning world champions lost 2-1 to a resurgent Italy in Bari, while A Seleção showed they have yet to recover from their disappointing Copa America, suffering a 3-2 defeat to an impressive young Germany side in Stuttgart.
Aside from a host of other friendly matches, there was also one UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier taking place, with Northern Ireland strolling to a 4-0 victory over Faroe Islands in Group C.
Match of the day
Germany 3-2 Brazil
Goals: Bastian Schweinsteiger 61 pen, Mario Gotze 66, Andre Schurrle 80 (Germany); Robinho 72 pen, Neymar 90
Joachim Low’s youthful side were rewarded for their patient team play and probing passing, surging to a notable win over the five-time world champions, with all the goals coming in a hectic final 30 minutes. Bastian Schweinsteiger, was Germany’s instigator-in-chief, opening the scoring from the spot and continually picking holes in Brazil’s creaking rearguard. Schweinsteiger it was who robbed Andre Santos of possession in the penalty box to tee up Schurrle for the home side’s third goal, which ultimately settled the game. The visitors responded with the occasional flash of individual brilliance, leaving coach Mano Menezes with plenty to ponder as he continues his struggle to find the right balance.
Inspired by Antonio Cassano, performing at the peak of his powers on a pitch where he learned his trade, Italy continued their recent renaissance with a battling 2-1 defeat of Spain, who lacked their usual composure.
Ricardo Montolivo set La Nazionale on the road to victory with a cool clipped finish past Iker Casillas before Xabi Alonso restored parity from the spot. Substitute Fernando Llorente missed a glorious chance to put the Spanish in front in the second half, an error that Alberto Aquilani punished six minutes from time, firing in a shot that deflected off Raul Albiol and past the stranded Victor Valdes.
Chile had every reason to be satisfied with their 1-1 draw against an improving France in Montpellier. Shorn of several first-choice players, Les Bleus fielded an adventurous 4-3-3 line-up and dominated for long periods. No-one impressed more than the in-form Karim Benzema, who teed up Loic Remy for the opening goal of the night and provided plenty of menace and artistry on the left flank, from where he created most of his side’s chances. The Chileans made the hosts pay for the profligacy, however, when Nicolas Andres Cordova converted their second chance of the evening with a searing drive into the top corner.
Serbia’s winless streak was extended to four matches when they went down to a Pavel Pogrebnyak goal in Russia, while Mohammed Abdellaoue was the star of the show as Norway overwhelmed Czech Republic 3-0, the Hannover 96 striker helping himself to a brace. The Czechs' EURO 2012 qualifying rivals, Scotland, meanwhile, enjoyed better fortune, edging out Denmark 2-1 in a rain-soaked encounter at Hampden Park.
The co-hosts of UEFA EURO 2012 enjoyed contrasting fortunes. Tobias Hysen’s last-minute goal condemned Ukraine to a 1-0 defeat at home to Sweden, while Poland overcame Georgia by the same scoreline thanks to a Jakub Blaszczykowski strike.
Finally, Borussia Dortmund playmaker was on target twice as Japan downed Korea Republic 3-0 in a game overshadowed by the death last week of former international Naoki Matsuda.
Goal of the day
Germany 2-1 Brazil. Mario Gotze 66
Stealing into space between Brazil’s central defenders, Mario Gotze latched onto to a precise Toni Kroos through-ball, took the ball round the advancing Julio Cesar and slotted home from a narrow angle, capping an excellent German move.
17 - The number of years since Italy last beat Spain, also by a 2-1 scoreline. That distant victory came on 9 July 1994 in the quarter-finals of the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA™, with Dino Baggio and Roberto Baggio on the scoresheet for the eventual runners-up and Jose Luis Caminero replying for the Spanish.
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