Spain beats Argentina, Brazil edges Germany
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
Gareth Southgate’s England was denied victory over Italy at Wembley after the visitors were awarded a disputed late penalty in a 1-1 draw following consultation with the video assistant referee.
Spain underlined its status as chief contender at this year’s World Cup in Russia as it extended its unbeaten run under Julen Lopetegui to 18 matches in sensational fashion in Madrid.
Diego Costa bravely forced home Spain’s opening goal on 12 minutes and Isco doubled the lead before Nicolas Otamendi halved the deficit prior to halftime.
The absence of Messi, left out of the squad by Jorge Sampaoli despite the coach insisting on March 26 that his star striker was fit, was telling as Spain dominated the South Americans in the second half.
Isco bagged his second on 52 minutes and Thiago Alcantara swiftly added another for the hosts before substitute Iago Aspas struck after latching onto a long downfield pass from David de Gea.
The mauling was complete when Isco sealed his treble on 74 minutes, capping a starring performance while leaving Sampaoli with questions to answer with the World Cup less than three months away.
Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus powered in a first-half header in Berlin as Brazil gained a measure of revenge for the 7-1 demolition by Joachim Löw’s side in the 2014 World Cup semifinals.
The result ended Germany’s unbeaten run of 22 matches dating back to its semifinal defeat by host France at Euro 2016.
“It was a matter of pride, after all that has been written and said,” said Brazil defender Thiago Silva.
In the absence of injured striker Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy fired England ahead against Italy on 26 minutes after Jesse Lingard’s quick thinking set up the Leicester man to blast beyond Gianluigi Donnarumma.
But England was unable to pad its advantage and conceded for the first time in six matches as Lorenzo Insigne converted an 87th-minute spot-kick, controversially given via the help of VAR after James Tarkowski trod on the foot of Federico Chiesa.
“I’m glad it’s not the World Cup just yet,” said Southgate. “I think the ruling is ‘clear and obvious’ and it’s not. It’s one you can debate all day.”
Kylian Mbappe scored twice as France beat struggling World Cup host Russia 3-1 in Saint Petersburg, with Paul Pogba shaking off his problems at club level by netting a superb free-kick.
Romelu Lukaku grabbed two goals as a strong Belgium side romped to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in Brussels, with Michy Batshuayi and Kevin De Bruyne also on target.
Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka and Schalke forward Breel Embolo were among the scorers for Switzerland in a 6-0 thumping of World Cup debutant Panama in Lucerne.
Piotr Zielinski snatched a stoppage-time winner for Poland in a 3-2 victory over South Korea in Chorzow, where goals from Robert Lewandowski and Kamil Grosicki had put the home side in control before quick-fire strikes from Lee Chang-min and Hwang Hee-Cha.
Japan lost 2-1 to Ukraine in Liege as Oleksandr Karavaev grabbed the decisive goal after Tomoaki Makino had canceled out an own goal by teammate Naomichi Ueda.
Turkey, Montenegro draw 2-2
Turkey and Montenegro drew 2-2 on March 27 evening in an international friendly at Podgorica City Stadium in Montenegro.
Turkey’s goals came inside the first 23 minutes. A volley by young Cengiz Ünder of Italy’s AS Roma gave Turkey a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute. Just 11 minutes later, a header by Trabzonspor’s 24-year-old midfielder Okay Yokuşlu increased the lead to 2-0.
Montenegro cut the lead to one just before the end of the first half, when Mirko Ivanic’s header defeated goalkeeper Volkan Babacan.
The equalizer came in the 87th minute for Montenegro when Stefan Mugosa beat Mehmet Topal and placed the ball to the right of the goalkeeper, into the back of the net.