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PIX: World Champions France held to a draw; Spain crush Wales

Rediff News 2018-10-12 05:30:00

Images from the football friendlies played on Thursday.

Mbappe saves French blushes in 2-2 draw with Iceland

IMAGE: France's Kylian Mbappe takes a shot at goal. Photograph: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

France substitute Kylian Mbappe engineered two late goals to rescue a 2-2 draw against Iceland and spare the blushes of the world champions in their friendly in Guingamp on Thursday.

The home side enjoyed the lion's share of possession and created plenty of good scoring opportunities, but Iceland, hammered 6-0 and 3-0 in their last two games by Switzerland and Belgium, still managed to take the lead on the half-hour mark.

Alfred Finnbogason dispossessed defender Presnel Kimpembe near the corner flag before jinking inside Lucas Digne and squaring the ball to the onrushing Birkir Bjarnason, who side-footed it home from the edge of the area.

 

It was Iceland's first goal under new coach Erik Hamren and Kari Arnason added their second 13 minutes into the second half, flicking a near-post corner past France keeper Hugo Lloris and into the net.

That prompted the introduction of Mbappe, who scored France's fourth goal in their 4-2 World Cup final win over Croatia.

The Iceland players threw themselves frantically at every ball in a concerted effort to keep their clean sheet, but they were undone in the 86th minute.

After having a goal ruled out for offside, the 19-year-old Mbappe hammered a shot that goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson deflected into Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, who sent it bouncing across the line for an own goal.

Mbappe levelled the scores four minutes later, stepping up to rifle the ball home from the penalty spot after a handball by Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.

France host Germany at the Stade de France on Tuesday in their third UEFA Nations League A, Group 1 match, having picked up four points from their opening two games.

Iceland host Switzerland in Group 2 on Monday.

Alcacer double helps Spain ease to 4-1 win over Wales


IMAGE: Spain's Marc Bartra celebrates after scoring their fourth goal. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Spain continued their sparkling start to life under Luis Enrique with a 4-1 win away to Wales in a friendly on Thursday helped by two goals from Paco Alcacer as they earned a third straight win since their former Barcelona manager took charge.

Alcacer continued his rampant form by smashing the ball into the top corner in the eighth minute at the Principality Stadium, scoring for the fifth game in a row after netting seven times in his last four outings for Borussia Dortmund.

Spain captain Sergio Ramos doubled the lead with a header from Suso's freekick in the 19th and striker Alcacer volleyed his second after a defensive mix-up before the half-hour mark.

Defender Marc Bartra, who like Alcacer played under Enrique at Barca, got his first international goal with a header from a corner in the 74th, Spain's 12th strike under the new coach after beating Croatia 6-0 and England 2-1 in the Nations League.

Wales striker Sam Vokes got a consolation for Ryan Giggs' side in the 89th, heading a David Brooks cross beyond goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who replaced David de Gea in the second half.

Wales were without injured Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, although he watched from the stands and was honoured on the pitch at halftime for becoming his country's record scorer last March when he overtook Ian Rush's tally of 28 goals.

The home side's injury problems worsened when teenager Ethan Ampadu was forced off early in the second half.

Both sides are in Nations League action next week with Spain hosting England on Monday and Wales visiting Ireland on Tuesday.

Four-goal Argentina too strong for Iraq in Saudi friendly

IMAGE: Argentina's Eduardo Salvio, left, in action with Mohammed Dawood of Iraq. Photograph: Waleed Ali/Reuters

Argentina easily overcame Iraq 4-0 in a friendly in Saudi Arabia on Thursday with three players scoring their first international goals for the twice world champions while German Pezzella also found the net.

Argentina were without Lionel Messi, who is taking a sabbatical from international football, and fielded a new-look side that included one player making his debut and two others their first ever starts.

The new boys were rarely troubled by an Iraq side that defended in numbers, but showed little threat in their opponent's half.

Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, playing only his second game for the national side, put Argentina ahead after 15 minutes with a superb header from a Marcos Acuna cross.

Roberto Pereyra doubled their lead eight minutes into the second half when he took a pass on the edge of the box and swept a right-foot shot home after the Iraq defence opened up in front of him.

Defender Pezzella grabbed a third eight minutes from fulltime when he headed home after a flick on at a corner and Franco Cervi added a fourth in injury time after a surging run from midfield.

"It wasn't easy opening them up but we managed it and we were patient and managed to score more goals," Pezzella said.

The win took Argentina's unbeaten run under interim coach Lionel Scaloni to three games.

Since taking over from Jorge Sampaoli after Argentina's poor performance at the World Cup in Russia, the South Americans have beaten Guatemala and Iraq and drawn with Colombia, without conceding a goal.

Argentina's next game is on Tuesday against arch rivals Brazil in Jeddah.

Sweden hold Russia to a goalless draw

IMAGE: Isaac Kiese Thelin of Sweden, right, clashes with Russia's Roman Neustadter. Photograph: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen pulled off a world-class save as his side held Russia to a 0-0 draw in their Nations League B, Group 2 clash in Kaliningrad on Thursday.

Both teams exited this year's World Cup at the quarter-final stage and Sweden once again showcased the defensive stability that has made them so hard to beat under coach Janne Andersson.

The hosts failed to convert their dominance of possession into shots on target until 10 minutes from fulltime, when Olsen had to make a superb, acrobatic save to keep out a fearsome effort from Daler Kuzyaev.

That was the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock and the result leaves Russia top of the group on four points after two games.

Russia face second-placed Turkey, who are a point adrift, on Sunday, with the Swedes bottom on one point ahead of their friendly with Slovakia on Tuesday.

New-look Portugal hit back to win 3-2 in Poland

IMAGE: Portugal's Rafa takes a tumble following a challenge by the Poland player. Photograph: Radoslaw Jozwiak/Reuters

Portugal's Bernardo Silva scored a typical individual goal as their new-look side recovered to win 3-2 away to Poland in the Nations League with an impressive performance on Thursday. Andre Silva's strike and a Kamil Glik own goal put the European champions ahead by halftime, after Krzysztof Piatek had given Poland an early lead, and Bernardo Silva then got in the act early in the second half of the League A Group 3 game.

Poland substitute Jakub Blaszczykowski, making his 103rd appearance as he became his country's most capped player, pulled a goal back but it was not enough for the hosts.

It was also an unhappy 100th Poland appearance for Robert Lewandowski, who barely had a touch of the ball.

After two games Portugal top the group with six points, while Poland and Italy have one apiece.

Portugal, who are rebuilding their team after a second-round exit at the World Cup, left out a number of old favourites including Joao Moutinho, Jose Fonte and Ricardo Quaresma.

Captain and alltime leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo was also absent by what coach Fernando Santos said was mutual consent, although he is expected to be recalled next year.

Piatek, scorer of nine goals in seven Serie A matches for Genoa this season, struck an early blow when he outjumped Joao Cancelo at the far post to head Poland in front from a corner in the 18th minute.

But after that, it was mainly one-way traffic as Portugal took control.

Andre Silva levelled in the 31st minute, turning in Pizzi's low cross following a well-worked move down the right for his 14th goal in 29 appearances.

Ruben Neves set up the second with a majestic long ball from inside his own half which caught out the Polish defence.

Rafa Silva got on the end of it and his first touch took him past goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski before Glik put the ball into his own net.

Seven minutes after halftime, Bernardo Silva collected the ball near the touchline, jinked inside one marker, ran across the edge of the penalty area and scored with a low shot past Fabianski.

Portugal continued to dominate even after Blaszczykowski's goal and Renato Sanches was twice close to a fourth for the visitors.