Germany breaks 18-year spell to beat Brazil

Germany ended an 18-year wait for a victory over Brazil and Italy beat Spain in a meeting of the last two world champions in friendlies on Wednesday.

Bastian Schweinsteiger opened the scoring from the penalty spot in Germany’s 3-2 victory over Brazil in Stuttgart before Mario Goetze and Andre Schuerrle also netted for the hosts.

Robinho and Neymar scored for five-time World Cup winners Brazil, which hosts the 2014 tournament.

Spain — who won the 2010 World Cup — saw an under-strength side fall 2-1 in Italy.

While Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso cancelled out Riccardo Montolivo’s opener, Alberto Aquilani scored a late winner for Italy.

Bright young stars
But another clash of European footballing powers — England and The Netherlands — had to be called off in London due to police resources being stretched by several days of non-football related disorder in the British capital.

The most-watched game of the night was in Stuttgart, Germany, with the friendly televised in 190 countries.

The Germans saw another glimpse of the importance of the 19-year-old Goetze to their future title hopes.

Goetze was just one when the three-time world champions last beat Brazil 2-1 in November 1993 and on Wednesday he upstaged the visitors’ own 19-year-old starlet — Neymar.

Goetze scored in the 67th — six minutes after Schweinsteiger’s spot kick — when he rounded goalkeeper Julio Cesar before slotting the ball into the net from a tight angle.

Robinho pulled one back from the spot for Brazil in the 71st, after Germany captain Philipp Lahm’s poor challenge on Dani Alves.

But Andre Schuerrle responded for Germany inside 10 minutes when Schweinsteiger displayed great perseverance to win the ball from Andre Santos.

Brazil’s consolation came from Neymar, who unleashed a fine effort from outside the penalty area into the net.

In Bari, the Italians demonstrated how they are rebuilding after an embarrassing first-round exit from last year’s World Cup.

The hosts took the lead in the 11th when Riccardo Montolivo lifted a shot over charging goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

‘On the right road’
There was another setback for Spain three minutes later when striker Fernando Torres came off with a slight concussion.

But the Chelsea striker’s replacement, Fernando Llorente, won a penalty after being fouled by Gioergio Chiellini before halftime and Alonso levelled for Spain for the spot.

Aquilani, though, produced Italy’s winner in the 84th. The Liverpool midfielder’s shot from the edge of the area was deflected in by Spain defender Raul Albiol.

“We’re on the right road,” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. “This is a young team and when we perform like this against great teams our self-confidence improves.”

Italy has a five-point lead in its qualifying group for the 2012 European Championship. Northern Ireland climbed to third in Group C two points behind Slovenia after beating the Faeroe Islands 4-0 in the night’s only qualifier.

A good test
Like Italy, France is also showing signs of a resurgence after a dismal World Cup and it extended its unbeaten run to 11 matches by drawing 1-1 with Chile.

In Montpellier, Loic Remy gave France the lead with a powerful diving header in the 20th after being set up by Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.

But Nicolas Cordova equalised for Chile with a curling shot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the 76th.

“It was a good test for us and I am happy with how we played,” France coach Laurent Blanc said.

There was a sombre tone to Norway’s 3-0 victory over the Czech Republic in Oslo.

In remembrance
A minute’s silence was held before kickoff and both teams wore black armbands to honour the 77 people killed in July’s attacks when Anders Behring Breivik detonated a car bomb in Oslo before a shooting rampage at a youth camp outside the capital.

Mohammed Abdellaoue scored two goals for Norway, either side of Captain John Arne Riise’s goal.

In Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo scored once as the hosts routed Luxembourg 5-0.

The most goals of the night came in Geneva, where Gervinho was the inspiration for Ivory Coast’s 4-3 victory over Israel.

Arsenal’s main offseason signing set up goals by Yaya Toure and Didier Konan Ya at the end of the first half.

But Toure, whose season with Manchester City starts on Monday, limped off at halftime with a sore left ankle after a fierce challenge by Tal Ben Haim.

His replacement, Moussa Kone, scored Côte d’Ivoire’s third with 20 minutes to go. Itay Shechter and Maor Melikson pulled goals back for Israel before Côte d’Ivoire captain Didier Drogba’s successful penalty kick. Melikson also scored from the spot before the end.

Scotland beat Denmark for the first time since 1975, with Robert Snodgrass scoring his first international goal on his first start to clinch a 2-1 victory.

British rival Wales lost 2-1 at home to Australia, whose goals were scored by Tim Cahill and Robbie Kruse. — Sapa-AP

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