Drama, draws and dazzling displays
Substitute Bafetimbi Gomis struck a second-half winner as France came from behind to claim a 2-1 victory over Italy in tonight's international friendly in Parma. In-form AC Milan forward Stephan El Shaarawy had given Italy a first-half lead but a brilliant effort from Mathieu Valbuena saw France draw level almost immediately and then Gomis put Les Bleus ahead four minutes after coming on as a 63rd-minute replacement.
The victory earned France their first triumph on Italian soil since 1994 and saw them claim another impressive result under new coach Didier Deschamps having last month held Spain to a 1-1 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying draw in Madrid.
The Netherlands and Germany played out a low-key goalless draw in their friendly at the Amsterdam ArenA tonight, with both sides missing a number of key players due to injury.
Mesut Ozil, Mario Gomez and Bastian Schweinsteiger were among the big names missing for Germany, who showed seven changes to the side that blew a four-goal lead to draw 4-4 against Sweden last month, while the Dutch were without injured duo Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder, with coach Louis van Gaal's experimental line-up including a debut for Kenneth Vermeer of Ajax in goal.
The result is unlikely to have made things much clearer for Van Gaal, who next takes his side into another friendly against Italy in early February, before resuming their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign at home to Estonia.
England suffered their first defeat in open play of the Roy Hodgson era as four-goal Zlatan Ibrahimovic earned Sweden a 4-2 win in Stockholm. The Swedish captain broke the deadlock only for England to retaliate with goals before half-time from Danny Welbeck and debutant Steven Caulker. But Ibrahimovic had the final say with a brilliant second half treble including an outrageous overhead kick for his final goal.
Jordan Rhodes bagged a first-half brace as Scotland began life without Craig Levein by edging out Luxembourg 2-1, Lars Gerson's well-placed free-kick proving only to be a consolation for the hosts. Jose Holebas' lone strike ensured the Republic of Ireland ended 2012 with a 1-0 defeat as Greece triumphed at the Aviva Stadium.
Luis Suarez was on the scoresheet as Uruguay were 3-1 winners in Poland in superb individual performance by the forward. The in-form Liverpool striker scored his side's third goal in the 66th minute - two minutes after Ludovic Obraniak had narrowed the deficit. Kamil Glik's own goal and a strike from Napoli striker Edinson Cavani had put the South American side two goals to the good before the break.
Nicklas Bendtner's 65th-minute penalty was cancelled out by Mevlut Erdinc four minutes later as Denmark and Turkey drew 1-1, while Alexandru Maxim and Gabriel Torje scored in either half to give Romania a 2-1 win over Belgium, who opened the scoring through Christian Benteke.
Armenia beat Lithuania 4-2, Serbia saw off 10-man Chile 3-1, while Finland cantered to a 3-0 victory in Cyprus. Norway ran out 2-0 winners in Hungary, Belarus came from behind for a 2-1 triumph in Israel, Liechtenstein were edged out 1-0 by Malta and Iceland eased past Andorra 2-0.
USA leave it late
Earlier on, Mix Diskerud's last-gasp strike helped the United States, who twice came from behind, claim a creditable 2-2 draw against Russia in Krasnodar.
Fedor Smolov put the hosts ahead in the ninth minute after capitalising on a mistake from Danny Williams to score from a narrow angle although Jurgen Klinsmann's men levelled with 14 minutes remaining as Michael Bradley finished with aplomb after being teed up by Juan Agudelo's header.
Russia thought they had claimed the bragging rights when Roman Shirokov scored from the spot after Clarence Goodson had challenged Artem Dzyuba in the area but Diskerud claimed an unlikely equaliser with a strike from just outside the area for his first international goal.
Saudi Arabia claimed a famous goalless draw against Argentina, who played a relatively full strength side with Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Javier Mascherano amongst their number. The South American side pushed strongly for a winner at the end but were made to pay for poor finishing from Aguero and Wigan striker Franco Di Santo, who was making his international debut.
A brace from David Lafata in the first ten minutes propelled Czech Republic to a comfortable 3-0 win over Slovakia at the Andruv Stadium.The 31-year-old striker scored in the third and sixth minutes to set the Czechs on their way while Borek Dockal sealed the win in the 72nd minute.
Elsewhere, Oleksandr Kucher's 33rd-minute strike gave Ukraine a 1-0 success in Bulgaria.
Finally, in Panama City, world champions Spain cruised to a 5-1 win over Panama. Pedro with a double and a strike from David Villa gave the Europeans a handy lead, with further goals from Sergio Ramos and Markel Susaeta.
Brazil's 1,000th match ended in a 1-1 draw with Colombia after Neymar missed a late penalty in New Jersey.
The Santos striker scored his side's equaliser shortly after the hour mark to cancel out Juan-Guillermo Cuadrado's goal on the stroke of half-time, but then sent a spot-kick over the crossbar with 11 minutes left in the match.
In Miami, Nigeria were 3-1 winners over Venezuela. Ideye Brown broke the deadlock three minutes into the second half and moments later Nosa Igiebor lashed in a second from long-range.
Frank Feltscher got one back for Venezuela with 20 minutes left but Onazi Ogenyi wrapped up the win for Nigeria deep into injury time.
Carlos Saucedo scored an injury-time equaliser for Bolivia as they salvaged a 1-1 draw with Costa Rica, who had led through Joel Campbell's 72nd minute strike.