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Argentina beats Italy 2-1 in friendly match

August 14, 2013

LONDON (AP) — Gonzalo Higuain and Ever Banega scored and Argentina extended its unbeaten record against Italy to four matches with a 2-1 victory over the Azzurri, while Brazil was handed a 1-0 loss by Switzerland in another friendly Wednesday.

Brazil’s 11-match unbeaten run came to an end as Dani Alves scored an own goal with a header into the top-left corner.

The last time Italy and Argentina met was in 2001 — also a friendly in Rome that Argentina won 2-1. Before that, Diego Maradona’s Argentina eliminated host Italy from the 1990 World Cup on penalty kicks in a semifinal in Naples.

Playing without Lionel Messi, Argentina defended well and was in control most of the time in a match dedicated to Pope Francis. Higuain put Argentina in front in the 20th minute and Banega doubled its lead four minutes into the second half before Lorenzo Insigne pulled one back with his first goal for Italy.

World Cup host Brazil had won its six previous matches, including five at the Confederations Cup to win the warm-up event in June.

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team was last beaten in February, 2-1 away to England. The unbeaten streak ended in Switzerland where it began in March when drawing 2-2 with Italy in Geneva.

At Belfast, in the only World Cup qualifier played Wednesday, Martin Paterson’s first-half goal gave Northern Ireland a surprise 1-0 win over Russia, preventing Fabio Capello’s team from leapfrogging Portugal at the top of Group F.

In other high-profile matches, Rickie Lambert celebrated his England debut in style at the age of 31, scoring the winner in a 3-2 win over Scotland, Germany salvaged a 3-3 draw at home against Paraguay and France ended a three-game losing streak by drawing 0-0 with Belgium.

“I’ve been dreaming of that all my life, it means so much,” said Lambert. “The lads have made me feel welcome and I’ve got a lot of respect for them all. It shows how far I’ve come, I dedicate this to my family and to Southampton Football Club.”

Germany’s poor defending was exposed, as Jose Ariel Nunez opened the scoring with Paraguay’s first shot in the ninth minute. Wilson Pittoni extended its team’s lead four minutes later before Ilkay Gundogan pulled one back.

Thomas Mueller scored the equalizer in the 31st before Samudio restored Paraguay’s lead. But Lars Bender salvaged the draw in the 75th, with a volley into the far corner.

“We made elementary mistakes, tactical mistakes, especially in the beginning. We lacked concentration,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew .

At Wembley, where England and Scotland faced each other for the first time in 14 years, both “God Save The Queen” and “Flower of Scotland” were booed by the fans.

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney failed to connect properly with a fine cross from Leighton Baines moments before James Morrison opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a powerful drive that England goalkeeper Joe Hart parried into his own net.

England twice came from behind through Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck, and Lambert headed in the winner in the 70th minute,

At the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Zlatan Ibrahimovic produced another one-man show, scoring three goals as Sweden defeated Norway 4-2. The Paris Saint-Germain forward had completed his last international hat trick last November in the same stadium, when he scored four goals in a 4-2 victory over England.

In Japan, unsettled Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was under the spotlight for sporting reasons, scoring a goal as Uruguay easily defeated the home side 4-2. Suarez spent the summer pushing for a move away from Liverpool, but the club has said it will not sell him to a rival club.

Playing despite a state of emergency that was declared in the country on Wednesday, Egypt beat Uganda 3-0 in the coastal town of El Gouna. The game was nearly canceled by the Egyptian federation because of the violence that erupted during the day in the capital Cairo and other cities as police stormed camps supporting ousted president Mohammed Morsi.

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