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Belgium stun Netherlands

LONDON, Aug 16, 2012,Reuters

Messi strikes as Argentina beat Germany, Brazil ease past Sweden

Lionel Messi scored and missed a penalty in Argentina's 3-1 win in Germany and Belgium stunned Netherlands 4-2 as a flurry of new coaches and debutants cut their international teeth in friendlies on Wednesday.

With 2014 World Cup qualifying games approaching fast in September, Didier Deschamps had a dull start as France coach with a 0-0 stalemate against Uruguay and Fabio Capello's first game in charge of Russia ended in a 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast.

World and European champion Spain, playing a surprisingly strong side, cantered to a 2-1 win in Puerto Rico after goals just before the break from Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas, although Juanfran limped off injured.

England got a modicum of revenge on Italy for their Euro 2012 defeat with a 2-1 victory in Berne, thanks to a cracking Jermain Defoe winner and Brazil forgot their Olympic final loss with a 3-0 win in Sweden, Alexandre Pato grabbing a late brace.


Portugal beat Panama 2-0 with Cristiano Ronaldo bagging a fine second.

Louis van Gaal endured a depressing return to the Dutch dugout as the World Cup runners-up, who flopped at Euro 2012 leading Bert van Marwijk to quit, came from behind to lead, only to lose to neighbours Belgium in Brussels.

Marc Wilmots enjoyed the early and last part of his first permanent match in charge as his Belgian side, who missed out on Euro 2012 but are packed with emerging talent, went ahead through Christian Benteke.

Luciano Narsingh and Klaas Jan Huntelaar netted after the break to boost Van Gaal, only for Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku and Jan Vertonghen to seal a famous Belgian victory.

Tough taskmaster Van Gaal, who was last Netherlands coach in 2002, must now gee up the Oranje for a Sept 7 World Cup Group D qualifier at home to Turkey, who lost 2-0 in Austria.

Italy, who beat England on penalties in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals before losing to Spain in the final, handed debuts to strikers Mattia Destro and Stephan El Shaarawy but it was old hand Daniele De Rossi who nodded in on 15 minutes.

England goalkeeper Jack Butland, who has never played in the Premier League, could have done better on his first cap but was relieved on 27 minutes when Phil Jagielka netted his first international goal with a diving header, again from a corner.
Defoe then bent in a superb winner 10 minutes from time.

In Frankfurt, Messi missed a first-half penalty but made amends with a superb second-half goal.

An own goal by Sami Khedira put the visitors ahead, Messi swept home the second and Angel Di Maria blasted in the third.

African champions Zambia lost 2-1 to South Korea, Japan drew 1-1 with Venezuela, China drew 1-1 with Ghana, Scotland beat Australia 3-1 and Serbia drew 0-0 with Ireland.

Among other games, Poland's new coach Waldemar Fornalik suffered a 1-0 defeat in Estonia, Ukraine drew 0-0 with the Czechs, Greece won 3-2 in Norway, Denmark lost 3-1 at home to Slovakia and Switzerland won 4-2 in Croatia.

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