Brazil, Italy Lose Exhibition Games
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World Cup champion Brazil and Italy lost in their first matches since the World Cup on Wednesday, and Germany and France were held to ties.
On the first full day of international play since Brazil beat Germany 2-0 in the World Cup final on June 30, more than two dozen exhibition games were played, most involving teams preparing for the start of European Championship qualifying next month.
At Fortaleza, Nelson Cuevas scored on a long shot that went in off a post in the 28th minute, and visiting Paraguay went on to beat Brazil 1-0.
It was the final game as national team coach for Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led the Brazilians to their record fifth World Cup final. Brazil couldn’t score despite using its top forward line of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho.
At Trieste, the Italians lost 1-0 to visiting Slovenia as Sebastjan Cimirotic scored in the 32nd minute. Thousands of Slovenia fans traveled to the game in northeast Italy and some hurled fire bombs and objects onto the field during the first half. The fans shouted insults and raised their fists as dozens of riot police entered their section to keep control.
There also was trouble between Bosnian fans and riot police after the home team’s 2-0 loss to Yugoslavia at Sarajevo. Several hundred Bosnian fans clashed with about 200 police, with some fans throwing stones at the officers.
A death threat forced Northern Ireland’s Neil Lennon to pull out of his team’s game against Cyprus, which ended in a scoreless tie at Belfast.
At Sofia, Germany came from behind twice to tie Bulgaria 2-2, getting goals from Michael Ballack and Arne Friedrich. Dimitar Berbatov and Krasimir Balakov scored for Bulgaria.
France, eliminated in the first round of the World Cup after not scoring a goal, played a 1-1 tie at Tunisia. Mikael Silvestre headed in a corner kick by Zinedine Zidane in the 19th minute at Rades, but Ali Zitouni tied it with a header in the 38th.
The Netherlands, which failed to qualify for the World Cup, beat Norway 1-0 in Oslo. Edgar Davids scored with 20 minutes remaining when 37-year-old goalkeeper Frode Grodas allowed a rebound on a cross.
Turkey, which finished third at the World Cup, beat visiting Georgia 3-0 at Trabzon on goals by Arif Erdem, Cihan Haspolat and Nihat Kahveci.
At Budapest, Hungary gained a 1-1 tie against Spain in a game honoring former Hungarian star Ferenc Puskas. Raul Tamudo scored for Spain in the 55th, but Vasilie Miriuta tied it in the 72nd with his first international goal.
Ireland beat Finland 3-0 at Helsinki as Robbie Keane, Colin Healy and Graham Barrett scored.
At Caracas, Venezuela beat Bolivia 2-0 as Daniel Noriega and Hector Gonzalez scored one minute apart midway through the first half.