Wednesday 13 December 2017

Villa cements first Spanish triumph on French soil in four decades

Spain gave further proof of why they are one of the favourites for World Cup glory this summer after seeing off France in Paris to continue their phenomenal run.

The Euro 2008 winners clinched their first win over their northern neighbours on French soil since 1968 thanks to first-half goals from David Villa and Sergio Ramos.

Last night's friendly victory also means Spain have now won 42 of their last 45 fixtures, with their only defeat coming against the United States at last summer's Confederations Cup.

Villa's 36th goal in his just 55th match for Spain edged him ever-closer to Raul's national record of 44 goals, which were made in 102 appearances.

Ervin Skela scored from a free to hand Albania a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland. Skela's 26th-minute effort from 25 yards passed the five-man wall and left Northern Ireland goalkeeper Maik Taylor with no chance.

Gonzalo Higuain scored a stunning goal to give Diego Maradona's Argentina a morale-boosting 1-0 win away to a lacklustre Germany.

Higuain clipped the ball over Rene Adler when the German goalkeeper rushed out of his goal scoring from 30 metres to give Maradona arguably the most impressive win in his turbulent 18 months as coach.

A frustrated German crowd watched most of the game in silence, cheered as Argentina stroked the ball around in the dying minutes and greeted the final whistle with resounding jeers.

Goals from Dirk Kuyt and Klaas Jan Huntelaar earned holland a 2-1 home win over the United States.

Kuyt converted a 40th-minute penalty to open the scoring after Jonathan Bornstein fouled Wesley Sneijder, who was set up by Arjen Robben. The Dutch dominated but some sloppy passing up front meant they had to wait until a deflected shot from Huntelaar on 73 minutes doubled their lead.

Carlos Bocanegra pulled one back for the US one minute before time when he headed home unmarked a free-kick from DaMarcus Beasley.

Johan Elmander fired Sweden to a 1-0 victory over Wales in their international friendly with a goal in the final minute of the first half.

Ola Toivonen headed the ball into the Wales net only for it to be harshly ruled out for offside at Swansea's Liberty Stadium. But Elmander collected the loose ball from a corner and scored with a dipping shot from 18 meters.

Kris Boyd ended his self-imposed Scotland international exile, but it was Scott Brown who was the unlikely goal hero as Craig Levein claimed a win from his first game as manager.

Brown grabbed the only goal of the game against Czech Republic to hand the Scots their first friendly win at Hampden since victory over Australia back in 1996.

Irish Independent

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