International football made its return on Wednesday evening, with memories of the unforgettable 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ still very fresh. In a repeat of the Final at the Maracana, Germany entertained Argentina as they celebrated their fourth world title in front of their own fans. La Albiceleste spoiled the party, however, gaining a small measure of revenge with an emphatic win.
FIFA.com has the details on that match and more as it rounds up the midweek friendly action.
Newly crowned world champions Germany laid on a party in Dusseldorf as they celebrated their fourth world title with a friendly against Argentina, the side they beat in July’s Final in Rio de Janeiro. Though the hosts were without Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger and the visitors had Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain missing from their ranks, the match did not lack incident. Dominating proceedings in Gerardo Martino’s first match in charge as Albiceleste coach was Angel Di Maria, who made up for missing out on the Maracana showdown by scoring one of his side’s four goals and setting up the other three.
El Fideo put the South Americans on the road to victory by teeing up Sergio Aguero and Erik Lamela, who gave Manuel Neuer no chance with smart first-time finishes. The new Manchester United man then flighted in a precise free-kick to allow Federico Fernandez to head in the third and followed up by neatly clipping the ball over Neuer for the fourth. Schurrle came up with an instant reply and Maracana hero Mario Gotze, who came on as a second-half substitute with Thomas Muller, added a late second to give the scoreline a more respectable look. Germany have not beaten Argentina in a friendly now since 1988.
Aleksandr Kerzhakov starred as 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts Russia, still under the management of Italian coach Fabio Capello, eased to a 4-0 defeat of Azerbaijan in Moscow, the former Sevilla man scoring twice as the Russians dominated from start to finish.
Back in action after their underwhelming Brazil 2014 campaign, England edged out Norway at Wembley. After spurning several chances, the Three Lions finally secured victory when newly appointed skipper Wayne Rooney converted a second-half penalty.
USA arrived in Prague to take on Czech Republic with a much-changed line-up from the one that reached the last 16 in Brazil. With Tim Howard taking a one-year sabbatical from international football, Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando both impressed in goal, while young striker Joe Gyau earned his first cap in a match that went the way of the visitors, thanks to Alejandro Bedoya’s solitary strike.
Over in Odense, Denmark took on Turkey in a match that marked the start of both sides’ attempts to get back into the world elite. Daniel Agger put the hosts ahead from the spot, with Olcay Sahan levelling things up and Ozan Tufan firing in a stoppage time winner for the Turkish.
There were mixed fortunes for Asia’s sides, meanwhile. United Arab Emirates drew 1-1 with Lithuania in Austria and Oman went down to defeat on their visit to Republic of Ireland, while Myanmar beat Palestine 4-1 and Philippines overcame Chinese Taipei 5-1.
Player of the day
Aleksandr Kerzhakov (RUS)
Following their disappointing showing at Brazil 2014, where they were eliminated in the group phase, Russia entrusted veteran front man Kerzhakov with the leadership of a young side they hope will excel at the world finals in four years’ time. The 31-year-old Zenit St Petersburg striker responded with a brace, taking his international haul to 28, and is now his country’s all-time leading scorer.
Goal of the day
Denmark 1-2 Turkey, Ozan Tufan 90
There was only one minute of stoppage time remaining in Odense and a draw looked inevitable, though visiting right-back Ozan Tufan had other ideas. One of the rising stars of the Turkish game, the 19-year-old let fly with a powerful drive from 30 metres out and looked on with glee as the ball thundered past Kasper Schmeichel, son of the legendary Peter Schmeichel.
41 - the number of goals Wayne Rooney has now scored in 96 appearances for England following his 68th-minute penalty against Norway. The spot-kick took him fourth in his country’s list of all-time goalscorers behind Jimmy Greaves, who amassed 44 in 57 games, Gary Lineker (48 in 80) and Bobby Charlton (49 in 106).
Myanmar 4-1 Palestine
Philippines 5-1 Chinese Tapei
Russia 4-0 Azerbaijan
Lithuania 1-1 UAE
Ukraine 1-0 Moldova
Latvia 2-0 Armenia
Denmark 1-2 Turkey
Czech Republic 0-1 USA
Germany 2-4 Argentina
Republic of Ireland 2-0 Oman
England 1-0 Norway
Morocco 0-0 Qatar
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