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Argentina outclasses Germany
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 17 - 08 - 2012

Germany's goalkeeper Marc ter Stegen saves a penalty shot from Lionel Messi (L) of Argentina during their friendly match in Frankfurt Wednesday. — Reuters
LONDON — Lionel Messi scored and missed a penalty in Argentina's 3-1 win in Germany and Belgium stunned Netherlands 4-2 as a flurry of new coaches and debutants cut their international teeth in friendlies Wednesday.
With 2014 World Cup qualifying games approaching fast in September, Didier Deschamps had a dull start as France coach with a 0-0 stalemate against Uruguay and Fabio Capello's first game in charge of Russia ended in a 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast.
World and European champion Spain, playing a surprisingly strong side, cantered to a 2-1 win in Puerto Rico after goals just before the break from Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas, although Juanfran limped off injured.
England got a modicum of revenge on Italy for its Euro 2012 defeat with a 2-1 victory in Berne thanks to a cracking Jermain Defoe winner and Brazil forgot its Olympic final loss with a 3-0 win in Sweden, Alexandre Pato grabbing a late brace.
Portugal beat Panama 2-0 with Cristiano Ronaldo bagging a fine second.
Louis van Gaal endured a depressing return to the Dutch dugout as the World Cup runners-up, who flopped at Euro 2012 leading Bert van Marwijk to quit, came from behind to lead, only to lose to neighbor Belgium in Brussels.
Marc Wilmots enjoyed the early and last part of his first permanent match in charge as his Belgian side, who missed out on Euro 2012 but are packed with emerging talent, went ahead through Christian Benteke.
Luciano Narsingh and Klaas Jan Huntelaar netted after the break to boost Van Gaal, only for Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku and Jan Vertonghen to seal a famous Belgian victory.
Tough taskmaster Van Gaal, who was last Netherlands coach in 2002, must now gee up the Oranje for a Sept. 7 World Cup Group D qualifier at home to Turkey, who lost 2-0 in Austria.
The friendlies, taking place before many European leagues have started, are much maligned by club coaches and they will be glad they are being done away with in the coming years. A number of leading players pulled out of the squads because of minor niggles, while there was little enthusiasm in some of the stands with England's game against Italy in Berne half full.
The reason for playing the match in neutral Switzerland will be beyond most supporters but coaches Cesare Prandelli and Roy Hodgson at least had the chance to check out some youngsters.
Italy, which beat England on penalties in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals before losing to Spain in the final, handed debuts to strikers Mattia Destro and Stephan El Shaarawy but it was old hand Daniele de Rossi who nodded in on 15 minutes.
African champion Zambia lost 2-1 to South Korea, Japan drew 1-1 with Venezuela, China drew 1-1 with Ghana, Scotland beat Australia 3-1 and Serbia drew 0-0 with Ireland.
Among other games, Poland's new coach Waldemar Fornalik suffered a 1-0 defeat in Estonia, Ukraine drew 0-0 with the Czechs, Greece won 3-2 in Norway, Denmark lost 3-1 at home to Slovakia and Switzerland won 4-2 in Croatia. — Reuters

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