Sweden and Austria both beaten


International review:Sweden and Austria both lost international friendlies this evening ahead of their World Cup qualifiers against the Republic of Ireland in March, but Group C leaders Germany came from behind to beat France for the first time since 1987 with a 2-1 win in Paris.

France's 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.

Argentina, meanwhile, were 3-2 winners at Swedenin 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 for the side that lead Ireland by just one point in Group C ahead of their meeting in Stockholm on March 22nd.

Gareth Bale continued his sensational recent form with a goal and an assist as Walesclaimed victory over Austriaat the Liberty Stadium.

The Tottenham winger scored his 10th goal for his country with a smart finish as he made full use of Joe Allen’s lovely lofted pass in the 21st minute.

The hosts had to survive some nervy moments, notably when Emanuel Pogatetz had a header wrongly ruled out for offside and David Alaba struck the post, but Bale made another telling contribution with a pin-point cross for substitute Sam Vokes to head in the second early in the second half.

Captain Marc Janko pulled a goal back for Austria but Wales held on for a valuable win.

Five-time world champions Brazilslumped to a 2-1 defeat to Englandat Wembley, with Frank Lampard netting a 60th-minute winner for the hosts after Fred (48) had cancelled out Wayne Rooney’s 27th-minute opener.

Veteran playmaker Ronaldinho had seen an 18th-minute penalty saved by England goalkeeper Joe Hart, as Brazil lost to England for the first time since 1990.

Charlie Mulgrew’s first goal for Scotlandgot new boss Gordon Strachan’s tenure off to a winning start against Estoniaat Pittodrie.

Celtic defender Mulgrew got the only goal in the 38th minute at the home of his former club when he fired in from a Charlie Adam free-kick — his first goal in dark blue.

Ironically, when he was boss at Celtic, Strachan deemed Mulgrew surplus to requirements during the defender’s first stint at Parkhead.

Michael O’Neill is still looking for his first win as Northern Irelandmanager after they were held to a goalless draw by Maltain tonight’s friendly at Ta’qali National Stadium.

It is the fifth draw from eight games for O’Neill while Northern Ireland remain without a win since beating the Faroe Islands in August 2011.

Danny Lafferty did have the ball in the net in the 18th minute but it was ruled out for pushing and the visitors were grateful to goalkeeper Alan Mannus for two very good saves to deny former Coventry striker Michael Mifsud.

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

Another late goal helped Belgiumearn 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.

Two early goals helped the Czech Republicheap more problems on struggling Turkeywith 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 Denmarkside who have yet to win in three Group B matches and crashed to a 3-0 friendly defeat to FYR Macedoniatonight, all three goals coming in the opening half-hour.

Spainwarmed up for their potentially crucial World Cup qualifying double-header against Finland and France with a 3-1 win over Copa America champions Uruguayin 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 Sloveniatonight, while Dusan Tadic netted a brace as Serbiadefeated Cyprus3-1 and Croatiasaw off the challenge of South Korea4-0.

Elsewhere, Romaniascored twice late on to beat Australia3-2, Japanbeat Latvia3-0, Greecedrew 0-0 with Switzerlandand Georgiadefeated Albania2-1. In other early kick-offs, Ukrainewere 2-0 victors over Norway, Azerbaijandowned Liechtenstein1-0 and Hungarytied 1-1 with Belarus.

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