Argentina defeats Portugal; victories for football's big guns

Argentina defeats Portugal; victories for football's big guns

There were victories for some of football's big guns on Wednesday in international friendlies as Argentina, Netherlands, France, Spain and England all won their games, dpa reported.

Germany, however, were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Italy.

In the Stade de France, the Les Bleus, who disappointed at the World Cup last year, managed a 1-0 victory against a 10-man Brazilian side, who had Lazio midfielder Hernanes sent off five minutes from the break.

In a match the home side completely dominated, Karim Benzema scored the winner in the 54th minute.

In Geneva, World Footballer Lionel Messi showed why he is considered the best player in the world as he set up Angel di Maria after just 14 minutes.

Ronaldo equalized for Portugal seven minutes later when he reacted fastest to push Hugo Almeida's header over the line, but Messi found a winner from the spot in the last minute.

England came from behind to beat Denmark 2-1 in Copenhagen, with Ashley Young scoring a second-half winner for a much-changed England side, following on from Darren Bent's goal after Liverpool defender Daniel Agger had headed Denmark ahead early on.

   "I am happy for the result and the performance of my players, all of them," England manager Fabio Capello said.

   The Netherlands were too strong for Austria, as they ran out comfortable 3-1 winners through goals from Wesley Sneijder, Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Dirk Kuyt, while Marko Arnautovic pulled one back for the visitors.

World Cup winners Spain, who beat the Netherlands in last year's final, needed a late David Silva goal four minutes from the end to beat Colombia 1-0 in Madrid.

Vicente del Bosque's uninspired side enjoyed 69 per cent possession but failed to translate that domination into many clear goal chances.

Colombia, for their part, were happy to defend in depth and hit the hosts on the break, a strategy that almost gave them a creditable draw.

Silva commented that: "It was a difficult game. We played well but so too did they. They did not make things easy for us."

In Dortmund's Westfalenstadion, Germany seemed on course for a first victory against Italy since 1995 after Miroslav Klose had put the home side ahead in the first half, but nine minutes from the end Italian substitute Giuseppe Rossi found an equalizer.

"The draw is fair, losing would have been an insult," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, whose side had four penalty appeals turned down, said. "We played a good game on a very difficult pitch.

   "We are still behind Germany. We still have a lot to work, but we know that we are on our way to do well."

   His German counterpart Joachim Loew said that his many changes in the second half caused the team to lose some of their rythm. "But I wanted to give the players the experience.

   "We wanted to hold our lead, but lost some of the tempo later in the game. We have a young side, and they are doing well," Loew said.

In Abu Dhabi, Iran stunned the 2018 World Cup hosts Russia 1-0 through Mohammad Reza Khalatbari stunning last-gasp winner. The Zob Ahan midfielder was then promptly sent off for celebrating by taking off his shirt.

Another upset occurred in Luxembourg, where the home side saw two Daniel da Mota goals give them a good 2-1 victory against World Cup finalists Slovakia, for whom Erik Jendrisek had opened the scoring 10 minutes after the break.

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