Spain fall to Germany while Portugal see off Argentina
Germany’s victory over Spain, the team that preceded them as world champions, came courtesy of a 90th-minute goal by Toni Kroos.
“It was just what we’d been hoping for. It’s been a big year and this was a fine way to close it,” Kroos said after the game.
But for Spain’s substitute goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, things were best forgotten. He was guilty of a howler, fumbling Kroos’ innocuous-looking shot from the edge of the area.
Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas had started for Spain in his 160th international appearance, but made way for his near namesake Casilla with 20 minutes to go.
Portugal saw off the 2014 World Cup finalist, Argentina by one goal as the contest was billed between the two leading lights in world football today.
Argentina striker Lionel Messi (R) shakes hands with Portugal's striker Cristiano Ronaldo (L). Photo: AFP
However Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest duel with Lionel Messi proved a damp squib as the two superstars played for just 45 minutes of their match at Old Trafford.
The 27th meeting between Portugal winger Ronaldo and Argentina forward Messi had been billed as a golden opportunity for the world’s two best players to underline their credentials for this year’s Ballon D’or award.
But neither Barcelona’s Messi nor Real Madrid’s Ronaldo were anywhere near their brilliant best. Ronaldo was especially anonymous on just his second return to Old Trafford since his 2009 move from Manchester United.
In the end, Portugal claimed only their second win over Argentina - and their first since 1972 - thanks to Raphael Guerreiro’s diving header in stoppage-time.
Raphael Varane’s potential status as a France great was boosted on Tuesday when his late header helped Les Bleus beat Sweden 1-0 in a friendly at the Stade Velodrome.
The 21-year-old Real Madrid defender, made captain because regular skipper Hugo Lloris started on the bench, nodded home seven minutes from time before club mate Karim Benzema missed a penalty.
Varane celebrating his goal. Photo: Reuters
France began brightly but lacked thrust in the opposition penalty box with Layvin Kurzawa’s volley from Paul Pogba’s cross sailing over the bar.
Sweden had to do a lot of defending to do in the opening 20 minutes before trying their luck on the break.
France had another excellent opportunity three minutes into the second half: Gignac’s volley from Payet’s cross was parried by Andreas Isaksson, who then blocked Griezmann’s fierce angled drive.
Deschamps then brought on Benzema and Alexandre Lacazette for Gignac and Valbuena to inject fresh blood into his front line.
Sweden coach Erik Hamren also replaced Isaac Thelin with John Guidetti.
Griezmann’s corner was headed in by Varane in the 83rd minute before Benzema skied a penalty over the bar after Oscar Wendt handled
Sources: AFP, Reuters, Vine