newsdog Facebook

WC playoffs: Brazil, France impress; Italy lose

The Week 2017-11-11 12:55:17
Brazil’s Neymar celebrates scoring their first goal against Japan | REUTERS

Neymar starred as Brazil ramped up their World Cup preparations with a 3-1 win over Japan, while France saw off Wales 2-0 in Paris and a new-look England held Germany 0-0 at Wembley.

Elsewhere yesterday, Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku became his country's equal all-time record goalscorer as Belgium played out a thrilling 3-3 draw against Mexico in Brussels.

In Lille, Neymar scored a penalty and missed another as Brazil outclassed Japan.

Neymar rolled in a 10th-minute spot-kick following consultation with the video assistant referee, although Neymar saw a second penalty saved shortly after by Eiji Kawashima.

Marcelo rifled in a magnificent second as Brazil doubled their lead on 17 minutes, with Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus rounding off a clinical counter-attack before half-time to make it 3-0.

Tomoaki Makino nodded in a consolation from a corner on 62 minutes but Japan remain winless against Brazil, losing for the 10th time in 12 meetings.

At the Stade de France in Paris, Antoine Griezmann rediscovered his goal-scoring touch with the first goal in a 2-0 victory against Wales. Griezmann had scored only three times in 13 appearances for Atletico Madrid this term and was without a goal for his club since netting a penalty against Chelsea in the Champions League in September.

But he ended his drought by opening the scoring in the 18th minute yesterday, converting a pass from Corentin Tolisso.

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud hit his 29th international goal in the second half to complete the win.

At Wembley, England debutants Jordan Pickford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek caught the eye as Gareth Southgate's injured-ravaged side played out a 0-0 draw with world champions Germany.

Everton goalkeeper Pickford, 23, made a number of smart saves, while 21-year-old Chelsea midfielder Loftus-Cheek, who is on loan at Crystal Palace, produced an assured display in the number 10 shirt.

Joachim Loew's Germany came closest to scoring when winger Leroy Sane rattled the crossbar midway through the first half.

Lukaku scored twice as Belgium shared a six-goal thriller with fellow World Cup finalists Mexico. He now has 30 international goals, joining Paul van Himst and Bernard Voorhoof who also reached the mark.

Missing star striker Robert Lewandowski, Poland drew 0-0 with Uruguay who were without Luis Sanchez in Warsaw.

Portugal didn't miss the resting Cristiano Ronaldo as they defeated Saudi Arabia 3-0 with goals from Manuel Fernandes, Goncalo Guedes and Joao Mario.

Sweden claimed a precious 1-0 first-leg victory over Italy in their World Cup play-off, leaving the four-time champions in danger of missing the tournament for the first time in 60 years. Substitute Jakob Johansson grabbed the only goal of a scrappy game in the 61st minute with a low strike that found the corner with the aid of a big deflection.