x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Hodgson pleased with Rooney form as England win football friendly

In other international friendlies, Brazil are upset by Switzerland while Spain, Portugal and Argentina collect wins.

Wayne Rooney, left, played for '67 valuable minutes' in England's international friendly against Scotland. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images
Wayne Rooney, left, played for '67 valuable minutes' in England's international friendly against Scotland. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

Roy Hodgson revealed Wayne Rooney looked so good during the first half of England's 3-2 win over Scotland it persuaded him to give the Manchester United man an extended run-out.

After missing United's entire pre-season programme, Rooney started Wednesday night's match with David Moyes' blessing.

Although there were obvious signs of rustiness, Rooney sparkled at times and would have had a goal were it not for an incorrect offside decision against him.

Hodgson was so impressed he kept Rooney on for a large part of the second period too.

And he will now come into contention for the start of United's English Premier League title defence at Swansea on Saturday.

"Our first thought was not to risk him for those additional minutes but he was looking so fit, chasing hard and working hard," said Hodgson.

"But it went well because he's fit and raring to go.

"Under normal circumstances, you wouldn't be expecting a player to be making his first appearance in mid-August against Scotland.

"But David Moyes and the people at United have been fantastic.

"They've almost welcomed the fact he wanted to play and I wanted to play him and he got 67 very valuable minutes."

For virtually the first time this summer though, Rooney was a secondary topic.

After goals from Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck had cancelled out efforts from James Morrison - whose opener came courtesy of a woeful Joe Hart error - and Kenny Miller, Rickie Lambert sealed victory in Roy of the Rovers fashion.

The 31 year old, who spent most of his career in the lower leagues at places like Macclesfield and Rochdale, scored with his very first touch as an international footballer: a powerful header from Leighton Baines' corner.

"It was a fairytale goal," said Hodgson.

"He's been a breath of fresh air while with us, so happy to be part of the squad.

"What a wonderful story that he crowned it with the winning goal.

"He could have gone away with the match ball, with the shot against the post and another that had to be palmed away, but maybe he has to be happy with one."

Lambert cannot take his chances of being called up for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine for granted, though.

"There might be a bit more competition next time," said Hodgson.

"Daniel Sturridge is hopefully back after playing 45 minutes behind closed doors today and Andy Carroll is not far from fitness.

"We'll see in the next three weeks, but he won't be being struck off my list very lightly.

"It's up to him to do for Southampton what he did last year, with his goals and assists."

Italy 1 Argentina 2

Gonzalo Higuain, the Napoli new boy, fired a warning shot to Italian Serie A defenders everywhere as he scored one and made one in Argentina's one-sided friendly victory over Italy.

Higuain, a summer arrival in Naples from Real Madrid, opened the scoring in the 20th minute and then turned provider early in the second half for substitute Ever Banega.

Wednesday night's match at Rome's Stadio Olimpico - the first between these two countries in 12 years - was held in the honour of the recently elected Pope Francis, a Buenos Aires native but the son of Italian parents.

Germany 3 Paraguay 3

Germany's defensive problems were exposed by Paraguay in a 3-3 draw in an international friendly in Kaiserslautern.

Paraguay raced into a two-goal lead with Jose Nunez and Wilson Pittoni scoring within 15 minutes, but Germany responded well with Ilkay Gundogan and Thomas Muller bringing them level within the next quarter of an hour.

Miguel Samudio then punished some slack defending once again to give Paraguay a half-time lead before Lars Bender spared Germany's blushes with an equaliser 15 minutes from time.

Portugal 1 Holland 1

Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a late equaliser for Portugal in an entertaining friendly against Holland in Faro on Wednesday night.

Kevin Strootman gave the visitors a first-half lead as he converted a Jeremain Lens cross after just 17 minutes.

But Portugal dominated the second half and got the equaliser they deserved with three minutes remaining as Ronaldo scored from a Miguel Veloso corner.

Belgium 0 France 0

Belgium and France shared a goalless draw in an open game at the Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels.

Both sides were committed to attacking although neither goalkeeper was really called into action.

The hosts carved out plenty of chances but they were profligate in front of goal, while Karim Benzema found himself in good positions but he could not convert that into goalscoring.

Switzerland 1 Brazil 0

A Dani Alves own goal was enough to take Switzerland past Brazil as Felipe Scolari's side lost their first match since winning the Confederations Cup.

The South American side beat world and European champions Spain in June to lift the Fifa trophy on home soil (see gallery).

But although they dominated at a packed Jakob Park stadium in Basle tonight, they failed to take their chances allowing the Swiss hosts to snatch the narrowest of wins.

Ecuador 0 Spain 2

Alvaro Negredo and Santi Cazorla both got on the scoresheet as Spain comfortably overcame Ecuador in an international friendly in Guayaquil.

The Manchester City striker opened the scoring midway the first half, while the Arsenal midfielder, who created the first goal, made sure of the victory on 62 minutes.

It was the first Ecuador match since the death of Christian Benitez, who was capped 58 times for his country, and both teams paid tribute to the former Birmingham City forward by stopping the game for 60 seconds after 11 minutes.

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