BARI: Spain kicked off their first match of the season, losing 2-1 against former World Champions Italy in one of several friendly games played around Europe on Wednesday.
The Italians started off the better side before the break, but Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso equalised from the spot following Riccardo Montolivo’s opener. Alberto Aquilani’s late winner took a decisive deflection to wrong-foot substitute goal-keeper Victor Valdes in a second half Spain had dominated. “I don’t think they deserved to win,” said Iker Casillas. “A draw would have been fairer.”
Germany shock Brazil
Elsewhere, after an impressive 3-2 win over Brazil, Bastian Schweinsteiger said Germany need not fear anybody as rising star Mario Goetze shone against the South Americans.
“We wanted to put the Brazilians under pressure and we did that,” said Bayern Munich’s Schweinsteiger. “It has shown that we don’t need to hide from anyone.”
After a goalless first 45 minutes, a second-half penalty by Schweinsteiger and a superb individual effort from Goetze put the hosts ahead before Brazil’s Robinho converted a 71st minute penalty. The Germans made sure of victory when Bayer Leverkusen’s Andre Shuerrle came off the bench to score the third 10 minutes before the final whistle, while Brazil’s Neymar scored his side’s second deep into injury time.
France held by Chile
Meanwhile, France and Chile drew 1-1 in an entertaining friendly encounter in Montpellier, with Loic Remy’s first-half goal for the hosts cancelled out by substitute Nicolas Cordova late on.
France had capitalised on a lively start to the game by taking the lead 20 minutes in when Marseille striker Remy headed in from a Karim Benzema cross. Cordova then produced a measured finish from the edge of the box after being set up by sub Alexis Sanchez to hand the South Americans a deserved draw.
Elsewhere, Scotland registered a 2-1 win over Denmark thanks to a late Snodgrass header, while Australia sauntered to a 2-1 win over Wales in Cardiff.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2011.