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Football | International

Wayne Rooney and Ronaldinho © Gallo Images

England edge Brazil; Spain, Germany win



Luiz Felipe Scolari got an indication of the work ahead of him to turn Brazil into World Cup winners when his second stint in charge began with a 2-1 defeat by England at Wembley on Wednesday.

Brazil were sunk by Frank Lampard's winner on the hour which gave England a first victory over the South Americans since 1990.

In other high-profile international friendlies, world and European champions Spain beat Uruguay 3-1 with Pedro scoring twice in defensive kingpin Carles Puyol's 100th international appearance.

Germany earned a first victory over France in 26 years with a 2-1 win in Paris, a stoppage-time goal from substitute Marco Verratti rescued a 1-1 draw for Italy against Netherlands and Argentina continued their impressive form under coach Alejandro Sabella with a 3-2 win over Sweden in Stockholm.

Shaggy-haired Spain defender Puyol was joined in reaching the 100-cap milestone by England defender Ashley Cole and Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa.

Brazil hope to satisfy their expectant fans hungry for a first world title since 2002 when they host the World Cup in 2014 but only showed glimpses of their potential on a chilly night in London.

The recalled Ronaldinho had a penalty saved by Joe Hart before Wayne Rooney fired England ahead on 27 minutes. Fred's fine finish soon after halftime levelled matters before Lampard curled a fine winner beyond Julio Cesar.

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"I'm not disappointed, there's no reason to say it was bad...we have seven, eight, nine players who have just started their season, England are in full swing," said Scolari, the man known as "Big Phil" who was re-appointed in November.

In a record-equalling 68th match as coach for Vicente del Bosque, Spain proved too strong for South American champions Uruguay in an occasionally tetchy friendly in Qatar.

HOT STREAK

Forward Pedro continued his hot streak, scoring twice at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha to take his tally to nine in Spain's last six games.

Cesc Fabregas struck first for Spain, his swerving shot helped into the net by keeper Fernando Muslera, before Cristian Rodriguez side-footed past Victor Valdes to equalise.

Pedro fired a low angled shot past Muslera to make it 2-1 on 51 minutes and sealed the game by finishing a Fabregas cross 16 minutes from time.

"He is a dynamic player who is clear in his mind about what he has to do and has the speed necessary in today's football," Del Bosque said of Pedro.

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Germany showed with their comeback win over France that they have strength in depth to offset injuries to key players.

They fell behind just before halftime to Mathieu Valbuena's close-range header but battled back after the break to equalise through Thomas Mueller before Sami Khedira wrapped it up from Mesut Ozil's pass with 17 minutes left.

"We were the best team tonight," coach Joachim Loew said.

Argentina's clash with Sweden pitted two world-class strikers in Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Neither scored but it was Messi who had the greater impact as Argentina outplayed the hosts with Ibrahimovic well-shackled by central defenders Ezequeil Garay and Federico Fernandez.

A Mikael Lustig own goal gave the South Americans an early lead, and although Jonas Olsson levelled, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain put Argentina in control at the break. Rasmus Elm pulled a goal back in the final minute.

In Amsterdam, Verratti's last-gasp goal saved Italy from defeat after the Dutch had led through a first-half Jeremain Lens goal.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli was far from impressed with his strike partnership of Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy.

"The expectations of Balotelli and El Shaarawy were high seeing their status at their club but now it is time that they take their responsibility in the national team and deliver," he said.

Ecuador showed their rise up to a best-ever 12th in the world rankings was well merited by stunning Portugal 3-2 in Lisbon thanks to a 70th-minute winner from Felipe Caicedo.

Dries Mertens scored in the last minute to earn Belgium a 2-1 win over Slovakia and Russia eased past Iceland 2-0 to stretch their unbeaten run under coach Fabio Capello to seven games.



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