x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

International round-up: Germany record first win over France in 26 years

Joachim Low saw his side record their first victory over old rivals France for the first time since 1987 after coming from behind to win 2-1 in Paris, while Italy secured a 1-1 draw against Holland.

Germany defender Per Mertesacker celebrates his team's winning goal against France.
Germany defender Per Mertesacker celebrates his team's winning goal against France.

Germany came from behind to beat France for the first time since 1987 with a 2-1 win in Paris.

Mathieu Valbuena provided the finishing touch to a dramatic, action-packed first half by putting Les Bleus in front, but Thomas Muller and Sami Khedira turned the tables in the second 45 minutes as Germany started the year with a win.

Although Germany's second goal should have been ruled out for offside, they had arguably done enough to celebrate victory in the French capital.

"We showed great morale to bounce back from conceding just before half-time," Joachim Low, the German coach, said afterwards.

"We did a lot of things right tonight that we did not do so well against Holland (in November) and I think that games like this show how friendlies can also be good tests.

"Tonight, both teams played to win."

A stoppage-time equaliser from substitute Marco Verratti earned Italy a 1-1 draw from their friendly with Holland at the Amsterdam Arena, with the hosts having taken a 33rd-minute lead through Jeremain Lens.

Cesare Prandelli, the Italy head coach, admitted afterwards he had been forced to abandon his original game plan and replace misfiring AC Milan strike pairing Mario Balotelly and Stephan El Shaarawy.

"We played our best stuff when we changed the system," he said afterwards.

"Verratti has a big personality and great technique, even if he does like to rush around sometimes. However, he scored a fantastic goal.

"El Shaarawy and Balotelli have to keep working hard together but they have an interesting future ahead of them."

Two early goals helped the Czech Republic heap more problems on struggling Turkey with a 2-0 friendly win at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium tonight.

Ladislav Krejci opened the scoring in the fourth minute and David Lafata added a second in the 28th minute as the Czechs took the honours.

For Turkey, the defeat is the latest in a series of disappointing results which has seen the Euro 2008 semi-finalists win just one of their last seven matches.

They have earned just three points from their opening four World Cup qualifying matches and are nine points behind Group D leaders Holland heading into March's double-header against Andorra and Hungary.

The Czechs resume their bid to reach Brazil 2014 next month against a Denmark side who have yet to win in three Group B matches and crashed to a 3-0 friendly defeat to FYR Macedonia tonight, all three goals coming in the opening half-hour.

Spain warmed up for their potentially crucial World Cup qualifying double-header against Finland and France with a 3-1 win over Copa America champions Uruguay in Doha.

Cesc Fabregas' early goal was wiped out by a Cristian Rodriguez equaliser but a second-half brace from Pedro Rodriguez earned Spain the victory in a match which saw defender Carles Puyol make his 100th appearance for the reigning world and European champions.

Bosnia-Herzegovina, who lead Group G on goal difference from Greece, were 3-0 friendly winners over Slovenia tonight, while Dusan Tadic netted a brace as Serbia defeated Cyprus 3-1 and Croatia saw off the challenge of South Korea 4-0.

Ukraine were 2-0 victors over Norway, Azerbaijan downed Liechtenstein 1-0, and Hungary tied 1-1 with Belarus.

Argentina, meanwhile, were 3-2 winners at Sweden in a match which produced an action-packed start with four goals scored in the opening 23 minutes.

An own goal from Mikael Lustig put Argentina ahead in the third minute but West Brom defender Jonas Olsson drew Sweden level in the 17th minute.

Two goals in four minutes from Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero and Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain soon after earned the South Americans the victory, with Rasmus Elm's late strike nothing more than a consolation.

Another late goal helped Belgium earn a 2-1 win over Slovakia. Dries Mertens netted a 90th-minute winner for the Belgians, three minutes after Slovakia's Ricaard Lasik had levelled up an early penalty from Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard.

Elsewhere, Romania scored twice late on to beat Australia 3-2, Japan beat Latvia 3-0, Greece drew 0-0 with Switzerland and Georgia defeated Albania 2-1.

Russia, who boast arguably the most impressive record so far from a European side in World Cup qualifying with four wins from four and no goals conceded, were also victorious tonight with a 2-0 win over Finland.

However, the Russians' Group F rivals Portugal did not have such a successful evening as they were beaten 3-2 by Ecuador in Guimaraes.

Ecuador, who are second behind Argentina in the South American World Cup qualifying group, went ahead after just two minutes through Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia but Portugal hit back with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Helder Postiga to lead 2-1 heading into the final half-hour.

Postiga's 58th-minute effort was cancelled out almost immediately by a Joao Pereira own goal, though, and former Manchester City striker Felipe Caicedo netted what would turn out to be the winning goal for Ecuador 20 minutes from time.

Also tonight, Israel beat Finland 2-1 and Chile defeated Egypt by the same score line.

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