PARIS: England pulled off their first victory over Italy in 15 years in a friendly on Wednesday, while world champions Spain eased past Puerto Rico 2-1.
Visiting South American giants Argentina and Brazil also notched up comfortable victories over Germany and Sweden respectively.
A stunning Jermain Defoe strike 10 minutes from time handed Roy Hodgson’s England a 2-1 win, their first over the Italians since a 2-0 friendly victory in 1997.
England had to come from behind, with Daniele De Rossi heading in to give the Euro 2012 runners-up a 15th-minute lead before Phil Jagielka equalised 12 minutes later with another header.
“It was an absolutely spectacular goal, and a great way to win the game,” said Hodgson. “It’s something none of us who have watched him play for Tottenham over the years, and have seen the quality he has, are surprised about.”
Spain stretch unbeaten run
In Bayamon, Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas scored goals in the opening half for world champions Spain, who beat Puerto Rico, stretching their unbeaten streak to 12 straight matches.
It marked the first match for Spain since winning back-to-back European Championship titles last month. Cazorla scored in the 42nd minute and Fabregas added a second goal in the 45th with a low volley. Marc Cintron scored 19 minutes into the second half for Puerto Rico as he beat Spanish goal-keeper Pepe Reina.
Argentina humble Germany
In Frankfurt, Argentina, whose World Cup ambitions died in a four-goal thumping at German hands two years ago in South Africa, turned the tables with a 3-1 win, despite Lionel Messi mising a penalty.
The hosts ended up with 10 men and were struggling once they lost inexperienced goal-keeper Ron-Robert Zieler after he upended the onrushing Jose Sosa. Germany’s 20-year-old rookie Marc-Andre ter Stegen of Borussia Moenchengladbach took his place between the sticks, then promptly saved a poor Messi penalty.
Brazil secured a comfortable 3-0 win over Sweden at the soon-to-be demolished Rasunda Stadium, the centrepiece of the 1958 World Cup finals the Brazilians won after beating the Swedish hosts 5-2.
With Pele and other members of that team looking on, second-half replacement Alexandre Pato scored a quick-fire brace in the 84th and 87th minutes, the latter a penalty, to secure an easy victory. Leandro Damiao, golden boot winner at the Olympics, had duly opened the scoring in the 32nd minute with a powerful header, to ensure Brazil’s dominance over a Swedish side missing injured captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
In the northern port city of Le Havre, Didier Deschamps’s first game at the French helm ended in a 0-0 stalemate with Uruguay. Elsewhere, Belgium notched up a 4-2 victory over the Netherlands, Switzerland scored a convincing 4-2 win over Croatia and Scotland saw off Australia 3-1.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2012.