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  • Argentina 2 Mexico 0: Funes Mori's heade...

    Argentina defeated Mexico 2-0 in Cordoba on Friday thanks to Ramiro Funes Mori's header and a late Isaac Brizuela own goal.   Mexico should have taken the lead in the second minute of the friendly as Raul Jimenez hit the bar with a diving header from Marco Fabian's cross. Less t...

    Argentina 2 Mexico 0: Funes Mori's header helps to sink El Tri

    Argentina defeated Mexico 2-0 in Cordoba on Friday thanks to Ramiro Funes Mori's header and a late Isaac Brizuela own goal.   Mexico should have taken the lead in the second minute of the friendly as Raul Jimenez hit the bar with a diving header from Marco Fabian's cross. Less than a minute later, Funes Mori's slip allowed Alan Pulido to play Fabian through on goal, but his tame shot was saved by Agustin Marchesin. After surviving those early scares, Argentina settled into the contest and slowly began to threaten through Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martinez, although they remained vulnerable, with Leandro Parades' inch-perfect sliding tackle inside the area denying Jimenez on the counterattack. The pressure continued to grow, Guillermo Ochoa making a smart save to keep out Martinez's downward header from a Dybala free-kick in the 38th minute. And when the deadlock was eventually broken, it was another Dybala set-piece that did the damage, Funes Mori meeting his delivery from a free-kick unmarked to head home the opener.  Dybala sent a well-weighted chip narrowly over the bar in one of few chances of note during a disjointed second half, substitute Brizuela putting through his own net in the 83rd minute to prevent the lurking Mauro Icardi from opening his senior Argentina account.  What does it mean? Jury out on both coaches Lionel Scaloni can rest slightly easier, at least for now, after a mixed start to his reign as Argentina coach, having overseen a narrow loss to Brazil, a draw with Colombia and unremarkable wins over Guatemala and Iraq. Mexico continue to search for Juan Carlos Osorio's long-term replacement, interim boss Ricardo Ferretti having now orchestrated just one win over Costa Rica and four losses, to Uruguay, the United States, Chile and now Mexico. Funes Mori makes amends A careless early error having gone unpunished, Villarreal defender Funes Mori atoned for his sins just before half-time, shrugging off the ineffectual attentions of the Mexico defence to finish confidently from close range, leaving Ochoa stranded.     Dybala can't find his shooting boots  Dybala was by far Argentina's brightest spark before being withdrawn in the 72nd minute, the Juventus forward supplying numerous chances for team-mates and testing Ochoa himself with an eye-catching combination of chest control and a scissor-kick volley. But the 25-year-old is yet to score for his country, and the pressure will continue to mount on his slender shoulders during the continuing absence of Lionel Messi.  What's next? The teams will sign off on 2018 when they meet again in another friendly in Mendoza on Tuesday. 

  • Brazil 1 Uruguay 0: Neymar penalty settl...

    Neymar scored a controversial penalty as Brazil beat Uruguay 1-0 in a tightly fought friendly at Emirates Stadium. A resilient display from Uruguay's makeshift defence looked set to end Brazil's winning run, but Tite's side were handed a lifeline when referee Craig Pawson deemed...

    Brazil 1 Uruguay 0: Neymar penalty settles tight contest

    Neymar scored a controversial penalty as Brazil beat Uruguay 1-0 in a tightly fought friendly at Emirates Stadium. A resilient display from Uruguay's makeshift defence looked set to end Brazil's winning run, but Tite's side were handed a lifeline when referee Craig Pawson deemed that Diego Laxalt had fouled Danilo. Uruguay had enjoyed the better of the chances prior to the penalty incident, with Alisson having made a series of fine saves to deny Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. But, despite a hint of handball from Danilo in the build up to the penalty incident and what looked to be an exaggerated fall from the defender, Uruguay's protestations fell on deaf ears as Neymar stepped up to secure Brazil's fifth straight win.  A slick team move resulted in Neymar tucking home in the 11th minute, only for the offside flag to cut Brazil's celebrations short. It was Neymar's former Barcelona team-mate Suarez that drew the first meaningful save from either goalkeeper, as Alisson reacted sharply to tip the striker's shot over. Suarez turned provider on the stroke of half-time, floating a wonderful cross into strike partner Edinson Cavani, but Alisson came to Brazil's rescue once more. Richarlison's introduction sparked Brazil and, although a last-ditch challenge from Miranda denied Suarez a certain goal at the other end, Tite's side had their winner in the 76th minute. Danilo looked to have handled as he barged his way into Uruguay's area, before going down easily after hanging out a leg to ensure contact with Laxalt – Neymar sending Martin Campana the wrong way from 12 yards, with Richarlison squandering a great opportunity to wrap up the win late on.   What does it mean? Uruguay's future looks bright At 22 and 19 respectively, Mathias Suarez and Bruno Mendez made some impact on their international debuts, more than holding their own against Neymar, Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa, with Oscar Tabarez's unwavering belief in Uruguay's youngsters justified. Brazil, meanwhile, evidently missed the guile and craft of Philippe Coutinho, and it was only when Richarlison came on and added pace to the front line that Uruguay's defence looked troubled. Alisson shows his worth Brazil have two excellent goalkeepers to choose from, but Alisson more than proved his credentials as their number one, making two excellent saves to keep Suarez and Cavani – starting together for the first time since Uruguay's win over Portugal in the World Cup Round of 16 – at bay. Walace unable to stake his claim Casemiro's absence from the squad handed Walace an opportunity to demonstrate his qualities at the heart of Brazil's midfield, but he failed to exert his authority on proceedings. What's next? Brazil's global tour continues with a friendly against Cameroon in Milton Keynes on Tuesday, while Uruguay travel to Paris to face world champions France.

  • Netherlands 2 France 0: Wijnaldum & ...

    Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay were decisive as Netherlands beat France 2-0 to relegate Germany in the Nations League and give themselves a chance at reaching the Finals. Germany needed France to win to give them a realistic chance of escaping the drop, but Netherlands de...

    Netherlands 2 France 0: Wijnaldum & Depay decisive as Germany are relegated

    Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay were decisive as Netherlands beat France 2-0 to relegate Germany in the Nations League and give themselves a chance at reaching the Finals. Germany needed France to win to give them a realistic chance of escaping the drop, but Netherlands deserved their victory in Rotterdam to ensure Joachim Low's men are demoted from the top tier. Netherlands can claim progression to the final four with a point in their last outing away to the relegated Germans. The home side had the better of the first period and deservedly broke the deadlock 44 minutes in through Wijnaldum, who made amends for an earlier miss. France never really showed the hunger to take control thereafter, and Depay wrapped things up with a stoppage-time penalty which beat the otherwise excellent Hugo Lloris in goal. Netherlands made a ferocious start which almost gave them a second-minute lead, but Wijnaldum shot straight at Lloris from 12 yards after Depay's cut-back. The visitors responded and went close themselves soon after when Antoine Griezmann saw a header saved by Jasper Cillessen. Netherlands' control dissipated as the first half progressed, but they did go ahead just before the break – Wijnaldum slotting in the rebound after Ryan Babel failed to beat Lloris from close range. Lloris had to be alert to prevent a second just after the hour, denying Denzel Dumfries' header and then blocking the defender's follow-up effort with his right leg. Depay was the next to test Lloris 17 minutes from time – his 25-yard free-kick forcing the goalkeeper into save down to his left. The Lyon star went close again soon after, dashing beyond Benjamin Pavard and seeing Lloris deflect a left-footed drive wide. France could not capitalise, however, as Netherlands made sure of the victory in the sixth minute of added time - Depay producing a cheeky 'Panenka' penalty after Frenkie de Jong had been tripped by substitute Moussa Sissoko.   What does it mean? Netherlands becoming a force once again Many were quick to write off Netherlands' chances when the groups were revealed, but they have proven themselves to be a match for anyone. Youthful, vibrant and full of flair, the Oranje are starting to look like their old selves again and could make the Finals depending on their result against Germany. They are a point behind world champions France with that Germany game in hand. De Jong dictator He may be only 21, but De Jong controlled the match with the composure and maturity of someone much older. He was a calming influence, completing more passes in the opposition half than anyone else on the pitch, going on to win the clinching penalty. Nzonzi the fall guy Roma midfielder Steven Nzonzi was culpable for the first goal having lost possession and never really made amends, struggling to make much of an impact against the dominant Dutch middle trio before being replaced in the closing stages. What's next? Netherlands' final Nations League match takes them to Gelsenkirchen to face Germany on Monday. France will be interested observers in that one, and are then in action themselves in a friendly clash with Uruguay – who they beat in the World Cup quarter-finals – a day later.

  • Wales 1 Denmark 2: Jorgensen and Braithw...

    Denmark secured promotion to the top tier of the Nations League with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wales at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday. Having won the reverse fixture 2-0 in Aarhus, Denmark completed the double over their hosts thanks to a goal in each half, Nicolai Jorgensen g...

    Wales 1 Denmark 2: Jorgensen and Braithwaite seal Nations League promotion

    Denmark secured promotion to the top tier of the Nations League with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wales at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday. Having won the reverse fixture 2-0 in Aarhus, Denmark completed the double over their hosts thanks to a goal in each half, Nicolai Jorgensen grabbing the first when he converted a one-on-one opportunity in the 42nd minute to finish off a rapid counter. The visitors defended doggedly after the break before Martin Braithwaite struck late to double their advantage, the Middlesbrough midfielder volleying home after controlling a long throw on his chest. Gareth Bale - available again after missing the games against Spain and the Republic of Ireland in October - quickly pulled one back for Wales when converting Ashley Williams' long pass over the top, but Wales could not find a leveller during five additional minutes. The result means Ryan Giggs' side miss out on the chance to guarantee a play-off for Euro 2020, should they fail to reach the tournament during the regular qualifying process, while also relegating Ireland to League C. It was a disappointing outcome to a record-equalling outing for Chris Gunter too, the Wales defender replacing the injured Paul Dummett in the first half to level Neville Southall's national record of 92 caps. Wales will look back with regret on their failure to take a series of headed chances in the first half, Bale nodding Connor Roberts' teasing cross wide after James Chester had twice missed the target when picked out by David Brooks. Denmark made them pay three minutes before the interval, turning defence into attack to break the deadlock. Yussuf Poulsen - who had initially won possession - produced a first-time pass to put Jorgensen in the clear, allowing the Feyenoord striker to tuck a low shot beyond the advancing Wayne Hennessey. A combination of Schmeichel and the woodwork denied Bale an equaliser, though the Real Madrid forward did eventually find a way to beat the Leicester City goalkeeper, rounding him to slot into an empty net. It was no more than a consolation effort, though, coming 84 seconds after Braithwaite's emphatic finish had made it 2-0 during a dramatic conclusion to proceedings.   What does it mean? Wales waste their opportunity Wales won away to the Republic of Ireland in the Nations League last month without both Bale and Aaron Ramsey, yet the return of the dynamic duo provided a huge boost for the pivotal fixture on home soil. However, a dogged and well-drilled Denmark team stood firm, despite the absence of key defender Simon Kjaer through injury. Brooks outshines Bale It was a disappointing outcome for the home team, but Brooks' performance was a highlight amid the gloom. The Bournemouth midfielder looked the most likely to make something happen for Wales, creating four chances for his team-mates while also attempting three shots at goal himself. Chester feels the pain Brooks' left foot twice teed up Chester in the first half, yet the defender fluffed his lines. The first chance was the better of the two, yet the centre-back glanced a header beyond the post. To make matters worse for Chester, he had to be taken off in the second half due to a leg injury. Key Opta Facts: - Wales have now lost two of their last three competitive matches at the Cardiff City Stadium (W1); they had only suffered two defeats in their previous 14 such games at the ground prior to this. - They have conceded as many goals in their last four international games (eight) as they had in their previous 13 combined. - Bale has been directly involved in seven goals in his five appearances for Wales in 2018 (five goals, two assists). - There were just 84 seconds between Braithwaite putting Denmark 2-0 ahead and Bale pulling one back for Wales. - Jorgensen’s goal was his first for Denmark in over a year, since netting in a World Cup qualifying match against Poland in September 2018, 441 days ago.   What's next? There will be no pressure now on Denmark when they round out the League B Group 4 fixtures with a home game against the Republic of Ireland on Monday, with Wales in friendly action the following day against Albania.

  • 'I'm settled at Newcastle' - Rondon hint...

    On-loan Newcastle forward Salomon Rondon says he and his family are settled in the North East and has suggested that he’d be happy to make a permanent transfer to Rafael Benitez’s side. The 29-year-old, who joined the Magpies on a season-long loan deal from West Brom in August, ...

    'I'm settled at Newcastle' - Rondon hints at permanent move

    On-loan Newcastle forward Salomon Rondon says he and his family are settled in the North East and has suggested that he’d be happy to make a permanent transfer to Rafael Benitez’s side. The 29-year-old, who joined the Magpies on a season-long loan deal from West Brom in August, scored his first two league goals for his new side in their 2-1 win over Bournemouth last weekend. That victory was Newcastle's second in a row having not won a single league match beforehand this season. Rondon has missed parts of the season with injury but is now fully fit and has claimed that he is very settled in the North East. "Ever since I arrived here it has been friendly,” the striker told the Newcastle Chronicle. "When I first signed some people recognised me around the city and they came over to say welcome. "They shook my hand and I asked them about the city. "I was settled here quickly." The Venezuela forward has recently moved his family to the area, which could be a sign that he feels he will be at Newcastle beyond his loan deal. Rondon opted to leave West Brom following their relegation to the Championship. He's scored 28 goals for the Baggies since his Premier League arrival in 2015, with his previous clubs including the likes of Zenit St. Petersburg, Rubin Kazan and Malaga. "I have played around the world but to be settled already is good,” Rondon continued. "I am settled and my family is settled, I now have to just keep on working." Newcastle, who sit 14th in the Premier League, have a favourable run of fixtures ahead and will travel to Burnley for their next league fixture. Their victories over Watford and Bournemouth prior to the international break lifted them out of the relegation zone, having only registered three points before their win against the Hornets earlier this month.

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